If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The debates are done. Is it a race or a runaway? Depends on whom you ask.

Several polling firms find Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of Republican Donald Trump by several points. Others including Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch survey show a closer race with less than three weeks to go.

We won’t know fully until Tuesday morning if Wednesday night’s debate made any difference. Rasmussen Reports updates its White House Watch survey daily Monday through Friday at 8:30 am Eastern based on a three-day rolling average of 1,500 Likely U.S. Voters. Friday’s was the first survey to include a full night following the final debate in Las Vegas.

Just 24%, however, say they’ve changed the way they were going to vote after watching the debates between presidential candidates.

But what an unusual election year. Consider, for example, that Utah hasn’t supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, but new polling suggests that it could help elect one this year.

WikiLeaks disclosures in recent days have highlighted the close working relationship between the Clinton campaign and journalists at several major news organizations including the New York Times and CNN. But then 50% of voters expected most reporters to help Clinton. Just 11% thought they were more likely to help Trump instead.

Some of these same news organizations are giving limited, if any, coverage to the WikiLeaks information, in part because Democrats are claiming they are part of a Russian effort to influence the election.

Although Clinton repeated it again at the debate, most voters aren’t buying the story that the Russians are trying to manipulate the election for Trump but think the U.S. media is trying to swing things for her.

Many voters complain of headline fatigue in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign. But then 80% believe this year’s campaign is more negative than past ones.

Speaking of headlines, most voters still disagree with the FBI's decision not to seek a criminal indictment of Clinton over her mishandling of classified information when she was secretary of State, and even more rate the issue as important to their vote.

Most also continue to have unfavorable opinions of both major party candidates for president.

Nearly half of all voters, in fact, still say their choice this presidential election will be the lesser of two evils. Fortunately for both Clinton and Trump, most think the candidates’ policy positions are more important than their character.

Democrats are nearly twice as likely as Republicans, though, to think their presidential nominee will help congressional candidates in their party.

By the same token, just 17% of GOP voters believe the job Republicans have done in Congress will help Trump’s bid for the presidency. That compares to 48% of Democratic voters who say Democrats’ performance in Congress will help Clinton.

Trump is calling for term limits for members of Congress. Voters have strongly supported limiting congressional terms in surveys for years.

Repeating his concerns about voter fraud, Trump at the debate said he will not agree to accept the results of the presidential election beforehand. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters think voters should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to vote, and 61% say such laws do not discriminate against some voters as critics charge.

Voters now rate a candidate's business past as more important to their vote than experience in government.

Republicans and unaffiliated voters tend to see Trump's lifetime of business experience as good training for the White House.  Most Democrats do not.

Trump continues to trash Clinton's tenure as secretary of State, but as far as voters are concerned, it's her biggest professional achievement.

At the debate, Clinton backed away from her call for an immediate no-fly zone in Syria to protect civilians from bombing after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that it would lead to a military confrontation with Russia. Most voters favor the idea of a no-fly zone but are concerned about a showdown with the Russians.

Trump views radical Islamic terrorism as the number one threat to the United States and says Russia would make a good ally in fighting that threat. Republicans and Trump supporters strongly agree that radical Islam is the bigger threat, but Democrats and Clinton voters tend to rate Russia as just as big a danger.

Bernie Sanders was the early favorite among Democrats to be Clinton’s running mate, but an internal party e-mail released by WikiLeaks shows that Sanders was 39th on Clinton’s list.

In other surveys last week:

-- Just 29% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

-- But at the end of the week President Obama’s daily job approval index rating rose to -1, the highest it’s been since mid-February 2013.

-- It’s no secret that adults of all ages spend tons of time on the internet and social media, especially younger Americans. But how much do social media and the internet contribute to our consumption of news?

-- In the Utah U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican Mike Lee appears poised to keep his seat against Democratic challenger Misty Snow, the first openly transgender person from a major party to run for the Senate.

-- It’s that time of year again, and the Nobel Prize committee in Sweden has been announcing its annual winners in the sciences and the arts. What does America think of the Nobel Prizes?

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