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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending April 15, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Foreign policy dominated the news cycle for the second straight week, thanks to the chilling relations between the United States and Russia, escalating tensions with North Korea and the U.S. decision to drop the biggest ever conventional bomb on an ISIS enclave in eastern Afghanistan.

Most voters support President Trump’s missile strike last week on a Syrian airfield suspected of housing chemical weapons used by Bashar al-Assad’s regime against civilians. However, they feel further action against the Syrian government should come from the United Nations and not the United States alone.  

The Syrian strike is the topic of this week’s Rasmussen Minute.

Russia, a long-time ally of the Syrian regime, opposed last week’s airstrike, and Russian officials gave U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson an icy reception during his first official trip to Moscow this week. President Trump says U.S. relations with Russia are at “an all-time low,” but voters think the United States can still work with Russia on some issues.

Even though they strongly believe the United States and Russia are headed for another Cold War, voters here appear less concerned about the worsening relations between the two countries than they have been in recent years.

Following his first meeting with the Chinese president last week, President Trump reversed his campaign promise to label China as a currency manipulator right away. When it comes to the current trade situation with China, most voters believe it benefits Beijing more than Washington.

Trump added that another reason for his reversal is that he hopes to have China’s support on containing the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. In March, voters said the North Koreans are more eager for a war but weren’t overly enthusiastic about doing something militarily about it.

On the domestic front, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of the reform agreements President Obama's Justice Department required of several urban police departments following high-profile police shootings. Voters think those agreements are unlikely to deter crime and agree with Sessions that they merit a second look.

President Trump has proposed moving toward a merit-based legal immigration system that grants visas based on one’s skill levels rather than their family connections. Republicans and unaffiliated voters like that idea. Democrats prefer keeping the existing family-based system.

Voters still aren’t convinced that senior members of the Obama administration spread secretly obtained information about the incoming president and his team to members of the media. A plurality (47%) agrees, however, that it’s likely Obama or his top aides knew that the nation’s intelligence agencies were spying on the Trump campaign and transition teams.

Voters oppose congressional Republicans’ recent decision to allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell or share users’ browsing history and other personal information the way Google and Facebook do.

Tomorrow is Easter, and while it may not be the top holiday for Americans, half of them will still honor the holiday in church.

In other surveys this week:

-- The income tax filing deadline is almost here, and voters continue to have an unfavorable opinion of the Internal Revenue Service. Still, they are more confident the agency will fairly enforce tax laws.

-- Even after the shooting and death of an eight-year-old student and a teacher at a school in San Bernardino, California, earlier this week, most Americans still think schools are safe places for children.

-- Sixty-one percent (61%) of Democrats agree with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez that Trump is not the legitimately elected president.

-- Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters think the United States is headed in the right direction. A year ago, 27% felt that way.

-- Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson insists he'll have commercial travelers in space by the end of next year, but a trip to space isn’t high on most Americans’ to-do lists.

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