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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What if they gave an election and nobody came? Voters are pretty fed up with the cast of characters now on the national political stage. 

Just 22% consider Barack Obama’s presidency a success. Even Democrats don’t think a campaign visit by the president to their state this fall is a good idea for their party's candidates.

Not that that voters are convinced his 2012 Republican challenger would be doing much better. Forty-two percent (42%) think Mitt Romney would be doing a better job as president.  But 37% say he’d be doing a worse one, while 12% feel he would be doing about the same.

The president’s daily job approval rating continues to hover around the -20 mark.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton is seen by many to be a shoo-in as the next occupant of the White House, but most voters see her presidency as shaping up much like Obama’s: 52% think the two see eye-to-eye on most major issues.

Then there’s Congress: Most Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters agree that it would be better for the country if most congressional incumbents were defeated.  Only 53% of Democrats believe Democrats in Congress have done a good job representing their party's values, but that's a lot better than the 28% of Republicans who feel that way about GOP members of Congress.

Democrats and Republicans are tied on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot. The two parties have been separated by two points or less for most weeks this year, with a sizable number undecided.

After all, voters still don’t like the health care law that Congress and the president came up with and expect it to drive up costs and hurt the quality of health care in this country.

Most voters for years have supported across-the-board cuts in federal government spending and think such cuts would be a boost to the economy. But Congress and the president never deliver.

Meanwhile, the president was at a UN-sponsored global warming summit meeting this week, calling for an international agreement that only 25% of Americans think would help the U.S. economy.

But 35% of Americans believe the world is headed toward an irreversible catastrophe if the members of the UN fail to deal with global warming. Just as many (36%) disagree, however. Twenty-nine percent (29%) are not sure.

So how is the U.S. economy these days? Well, for one thing, 56% of Americans think the economy is unfair to those who are willing to work hard, the most negative assessment this year. LINK

For the past two weeks, consumer confidence has tracked at some of its lowest levels this year.

Confidence in the U.S. banking system remains at the 50% level.  In July 2008, prior to the Wall Street crisis and the subsequent federal bailouts of the financial system, 68% were confident in the banks. 

Americans remain concerned about inflation and the vast majority feel they’ll be paying more for groceries a year from now.  Twenty-nine percent (29%) say they owe more money than they did a year ago.

Will the upcoming elections change the dynamic? Republicans hope so if they can make a net gain of six seats in the Senate on Election Day. 

Two of the Senate seats they are hoping to take away from Democrats are in Alaska and Arkansas, and both those races look better for the GOP this week.

Michigan is more of a long shot for Republicans, but the Senate contest there is back to a two-point race.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder now has a slightly wider lead over Democratic challenger Mark Schauer in his reelection bid in Michigan. Incumbent Republican Susana Martinez is back on track to be reelected governor of New Mexico.

The gubernatorial races in Iowa and Kansas are tighter than they’ve been all year. The race to be the next governor of Massachusetts is tied.

Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo appears well on his way to reelection in New York.

See our latest election update video.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-five percent (25%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction

-- Americans continue to question whether colleges and universities do enough to protect their students, particularly when it comes to underage drinking.

-- Voters remain concerned about the safety of nuclear power plants in the country but still don’t think the United States should phase them out.

-- Only eight percent (8%) of Americans say they rarely or never watch TV.

-- Sixty-eight percent (68%) think Americans watch too much television.

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