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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending April 6, 2013

Americans like a level playing field, but that’s not what they see these days.

As April 15 approaches, half of Americans think they are paying more than their fair share in taxes to Uncle Sam

Forty-eight percent (48%) think the federal government puts more focus on making Wall Street profitable than on making sure the U.S. financial system works well for all Americans. 

Scott Rasmussen’s weekly newspaper column says that to fight inequality, it's time to end the college admissions scam.  There is a problem when “some people earn big bucks simply because they can game the system in ways that aren't available to most Americans," he says. “In America today, one of the biggest parts of gaming the system unfairly can be traced to the elite universities.”

Seventy-one percent (71%) believe accepting only the most qualified students for admission is better than giving preference to alumni families, just 23% mistakenly believe that’s the way it works. Most Americans don’t think it’s fair for colleges to give special treatment to children of large donors

On other topics, most Americans don’t believe the federal government has the constitutional authority to tax bank deposits as they did in Cyprus to help fund a bank bailout. But 46% think it’s at least somewhat likely that the U.S. government will try to tax money in individual bank accounts

Fewer than half of voters now believe the federal government should have the final say when it comes to environmental protection, and they remain critical of the Environmental Protection Agency and its impact on the economy. 

 In advance of Friday’s disappointing report on job creation, the Rasmussen Employment Index had fallen for three straight months. Workplace confidence in the labor market is at the lowest level since November.

There also is growing concern about the long-term prospects for the economy. Only 36% of Americans now think the U.S. economy will be stronger five years from today. That’s the lowest level of long-term confidence we’ve ever measured. Sixty-four percent (64%) felt that way in early March 2009, but confidence has been declining ever since. Looking in the short term, 32% say the U.S. economy will be stronger a year from today, but 46% feel it will be weaker. 

Americans remain pessimistic about the housing and stock markets, too. Just 19% think the stock market will be higher a year from today. Nearly half (48%) of adults still think it will take housing prices more than three years to recover from the downturn that began in 2008.

On Friday, 27% of consumers said their personal finances are getting better, but 38% felt they are getting worse. 

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all Americans think it’s at least somewhat likely that the United States will soon face another financial industry meltdown similar to the 2008 crisis. 

Most voters (55%) still believe policies that encourage economic growth are more important than those promoting economic fairness, but they’re also less convinced that there is a conflict between the two

Most Americans continue to see poverty as a problem in the United States, but only 10% actually claim they are living in poverty. 

America Works founder Peter Cove joins Scott Rasmussen on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks to discuss his life’s work fighting poverty and how his private company is finding jobs for many thought to be unemployable. Democratic consultant Emily Tisch Sussman and the Winston Group’s Kristen Soltis Anderson are also on hand to discuss the ongoing debate over gun control.

The weekly television show, hosted by Scott Rasmussen, is carried on 62 stations around the country. WKYT, in Lexington, Kentucky is the newest affiliate. Beginning this week, the CBS station will air the show at 9:30 on Sunday morning. Find a station near you.

Support for requiring a strict background check to buy a gun remains high, but 51% of voters believe these checks will not reduce the level of violent crime in America.

Forty-one percent (41%) think the federal government should maintain a database with the names and addresses of all gun owners in the United States. Slightly more (47%) disagree and oppose a government database of all gun owners. Most Democrats strongly favor such a database, but most Republicans and unaffiliated voters are opposed.

Forty-four percent (44%) of all voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that the government will try to confiscate all privately owned guns over the next generation or so.

This distrust of government is a major factor in the immigration debate as well.

Most voters are willing to support immigration reform only if it includes both border security and a way for some illegal immigrants to remain in the country.  While 59% favor a comprehensive reform plan, just 26% support a plan without tougher border control. Only 39% favor a plan that would secure the borders but does not allow illegal immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding to stay here. A big problem for reformers, though, is that most voters don’t trust the government to really try to secure the border.

Most voters continue to like the health care they get but remain more critical of the overall U.S. health care system. However, the majority also still expects the system to get worse in the near future as President Obama’s health care law kicks in.

The president continues to earn just over 50% job approval in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll. But for the month of March, Obama's total Job Approval Rating fell another point from 53% in February to 52%. In December, it reached 56%, the highest level since May 2009. Prior to the election, that rating had remained in the narrow range of 44% to 49% for two years straight.

Democrats lead Republicans again this week on the Generic Congressional Ballot

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In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty-five percent (35%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction. That compares to 29% a year ago at this time.

--Following the recent major computer attack on South Korea, Americans continue to worry about the safety of this nation’s computer systems, and 55% believe a foreign attack on them should be viewed as an act of war. 

-- While most voters continue to view global warming as a serious problem, 61% think it is more important to find news sources of energy than to fight climate change. This question was asked in the context of the Keystone XL pipeline which most voters want built.

-- Most Americans don’t approve of the decision to tax bank accounts as part of a bank bailout in Cyprus but think it’s likely other European countries will resort to similar plans to fight their massive deficit problems. 

-- Belief in the importance of Easter is down slightly, but nearly half of Americans still planned to attend a religious service to celebrate the holiday last Sunday. 

-- At the beginning of the week, 61% of American Adults had filed their federal income taxes

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