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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- Week Ending April 20, 2013


The terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon and the resulting manhunt for the perpetrators have held the attention of the nation for the past week, but Americans seem to be taking the events in stride.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that there will be another terrorist attack in the United States in the next year. But that’s down from the 85% who felt that way in May 2010 following the unsuccessful bombing attempt in Times Square. Seventy-nine percent (79%) felt that way after the so-called “underwear bomber” failed to bring down an airline landing in Detroit in December 2009.

However, only 11% think the United States can ever be made completely safe against terrorist incidents like the one in Boston. At the same time, 54% consider economic threats to be a bigger danger to the United States than terrorist attacks or military attacks from other nations.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters favor continuing the current U.S. policy of imprisoning suspected terrorists who are considered a danger even if there is insufficient evidence to convict them.

Most voters (59%) also oppose closing the Guantanamo prison camp for terrorists in Cuba, and 79% remain concerned that closing the camp may lead to dangerous terrorists being set free.

Scott Rasmussen talks about the public response to the events in Boston on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks before he is joined by the AFL-CIO’s Ana Avendaño and Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, to discuss the immigration debate. Then Maine Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is Scott’s guest for a discussion of the issue of same-sex marriage.

What America Thinks is a weekly television show that airs on 62 stations nationwide. Find a station near you.

New immigration reform legislation and continued haggling over the federal budget were lost this past week in the focus on terrorism, but voter skepticism hasn’t changed. Only 15% think any budget deal agreed to by President Obama and Congress will really cut federal spending. Sixty-five percent (65%) believe it will merely reduce the growth of future spending instead.

But then just 19% believe the era of big government is over. Fifty-five percent (55%), however, think it should be over.

Scott Rasmussen’s latest weekly newspaper column argues that the GOP “needs to get over the makers vs. takers mindset.” He adds that Republicans “would be well advised to shift their focus from attacking the poor to going after those who are really dependent upon government—the Political Class, the crony capitalists, the megabanks and other recipients of corporate welfare.”

A plurality (46%) of all voters continues to give the president poor marks for his handling of issues related to deficit reduction.

Voter confidence in Obama's handling of the economy has fallen back to pre-election levels. Just 37% of voters now give the president good or excellent marks for his economic performance. Forty-five percent (45%) rate his performance in this area as poor.

Still, Obama’s overall approval ratings as measured in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll remain slightly ahead of where they were for the three years prior to Election Day.

Voters remain closely divided in their opinions of the president’s new health care law but also are still very clear that individuals, not the government, should decide how much health insurance they need

Sixty-seven percent (67%) believe, in political terms, that Obama is at least somewhat liberal, including 38% who think he is Very Liberal.

Democrats lead Republicans again this week on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters are Very Angry at Congress, and 47% say the same about the bailed-out banks. Thirty-eight percent (38%) are also Very Angry at the current policies of the federal government. Thirty-seven percent (37%) feel that way about the media, while just 29% are now Very Angry at large corporations.

At week’s end, investor and consumer confidence were both up from three months ago.

But Americans remain quite concerned about inflation. Eighty-one percent (81%) say they are paying more for groceries than they were a year ago, and 70% expect to be paying even more for them in a year’s time.

Confidence in the U.S. banking industry has once again slipped below 50%. Though most Americans say the interest rates they’re paying are little changed from a year ago, nearly half (47%) expect interest rates to be higher a year from now.

Even before the bombing attack in Boston, many Americans had reason to be unhappy on Monday: It was the deadline for filing their federal incomes taxes. But 86% planned to have their taxes filed in time.

Voters are narrowly divided in their opinions of the Internal Revenue Service, but 41% think the IRS is not aggressive enough in going after tax cheats.

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In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty-one percent (31%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Most Americans (53%) believe professional sports have helped improve race relations in the United States.

-- Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut 66 years ago this week and by doing so shattered the league’s color barrier, but he impacted race relations far beyond the sports culture. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans have at least a somewhat favorable impression of Robinson. Hardly anybody has a negative view, but 36% don’t know who he is. Seventy-nine percent (79%) have a favorable opinion of another major civil rights figure, Rosa Parks.

-- Only 17% think it is fair for a school to accept a skilled athlete over a more qualified student. Sixty percent (60%) don't believe these student athletes should be paid even if their efforts contribute to the millions of dollars in revenue that many of the nation’s big-time college football and basketball programs bring in to their schools.

-- Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Americans oppose over-the-counter sale of morning after birth control pills to those 16 and under despite a federal judge’s ruling to the contrary.

-- Seventy-one percent (71%) think movies, TV and other parts of popular culture encourage sexual activity among young people.

-- Thirty-seven percent (37%) think most working Americans do something dishonest to get ahead at some point in their careers, but that’s down from 52% last July.

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Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen "America's Insurgent Pollster." The Washington Post described him as "a driving force in American politics."  If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.

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