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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It’s disconnect time between Americans and their government once again.

Voters continue to believe that cutting government spending and taxes are the best presents the federal government can give the economy this holiday season.  Instead, Congress is on the brink of passing a $1.1 trillion budget that does neither.

Most voters have said in surveys for years that controlling the border to stop illegal immigration should come before any steps putting those already here illegally on the path to citizenship. Instead, President Obama on his own has exempted up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation, and so far there doesn’t appear to be much Congress can do about it.

The majority opposes the president taking action on immigration issues without Congress, perhaps in part because many don’t believe he is as interested as they are in stopping illegal immigration.  Voters are closely divided over whether their state should join the 17 states now suing the Obama administration over the president’s action.

Voters weren’t clamoring for a report on CIA interrogation methods either, but the Senate Intelligence Committee released one anyway this week. Some in the national security community warned against making the results of the Senate investigation public, saying it's likely to cause reprisal attacks against Americans overseas. Voters strongly believe it would have been better for Congress to keep the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods a secret if the disclosures put the American public at risk.

Besides, nearly half of voters favor the harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA on suspected terrorists and think they elicited valuable information that helped the United States.

Then there’s Obamacare which remains untouched despite numerous voter concerns. Most voters continue to believe the unpopular national health care law will cost the government more than projected and will push up health care costs for all Americans.

Voters aren’t keen on the idea of declaring war on the radical Islamic group ISIS in Iraq and Syria and strongly feel that congressional approval should be required before the president sends U.S. troops into combat. The Senate edged closer this week to authorizing boots on the ground for a war most voters don’t want.

On the holiday front, Americans remain strongly supportive of celebrating Christmas in the public schools and putting religious displays on public land – even as state and local governments run in the opposite direction.

Voters continue to give mediocre reviews to the public schools and remain strongly pro-choice when it comes to things like uniforms, academic calendars and school prayer.

Despite complaints from many in government, Americans are solidly convinced that their local police are their protectors and give them high makes for the job they do. Most also believe deaths that involve policemen are usually the fault of the suspect, not the cop.

But Americans are less sure of the need for police to use factors such as race, ethnicity and overall appearance to determine whom they should randomly search.

As with many issues involving race, black Americans and white Americans have distinctly different views of the police and recent high-profile events involving them in Ferguson, Missouri and on Staten Island in New York.

Most Americans aren’t convinced that recent protests around the country in response to the grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York will bring about desired changes and think such protests are controlled by special interest groups and outside agitators anyway.

Americans are more supportive of police officers wearing body cameras and believe it will reduce the number of fatal incidents cops are involved in.  Interestingly, however, they think the cameras will protect the police more than civilians.

Voters have become slightly less critical of the president since Election Day, although his daily job approval rating still runs in the negative mid-teens.

Democrats have edged ahead on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot, the first time they’ve had the lead since early October.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-six percent (26%) of voters think the United States is heading in the right direction. This finding has been under 30% nearly every week for the past year-and-a-half.

-- Investors are feeling more upbeat, consumers less so.

-- It’s Jesus vs. Santa again this Christmas season.

-- Americans are in the charitable spirit this Christmas, and more plan to make a donation than last year.

-- Most adults think their fellow Americans play video games too much. Nearly half of Americans also still believe violent video games lead to more violence in society.

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