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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending August 9, 2013

Who’ll be the next in line?

Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite among Democratic voters for their party’s presidential nomination in 2016. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie holds a narrow lead among Republicans for the 2016 GOP nomination. 

But not so fast. Clinton was also the clear favorite in August 2005, three years before the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She subsequently lost in the primaries to Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Meanwhile, GOP voters who say Christie is the candidate they least want to see nominated outnumber those who support him by 10 percentage points.

History has shown us time and again that 2016 is not likely to end up as a matchup of the current front-runners, Clinton and Christie, Scott Rasmussen says in his latest weekly newspaper column. 

Democrats’ fortunes in 2016 – and in next year’s mid-term elections – are likely to be tied in large part to perceptions of how President Obama’s national health care law is working out.

Roughly half (48%) of all voters now want their governor to oppose implementation of the health care law in their state. Forty percent (40%) want their governor to support implementation. That’s a complete reversal from January when 47% wanted their governor to support implementation of the law and 39% were opposed.

The economy is sure to be in play in the upcoming national elections as well. Despite the continuing bad national job numbers, 52% of Americans believe it is still possible for anyone who really wants to work to find a job, but only a plurality (44%) now thinks it’s possible for just about anyone in the United States to work their way out of poverty

Sixty-five percent (65%) of working Americans consider themselves members of the middle class, but only a third of all Americans believe the economy is fair to the middle class

At the same time, consumer and investor confidence remain near their highest levels in several years. 

But just 27% of voters say the country is heading in the right direction

Job approval ratings for the president himself have settled back to the levels seen during most of his first term in office after a surge just before - and for three or four months after – Election Day last November. 

Gun control was one of the top issues on the president’s agenda at the first of the year, but support for tougher anti-gun laws is down from just after the elementary school massacre in December. Americans now are evenly divided when asked if the United States needs stricter gun laws. 

When the National Rifle Association proposed armed guards in schools rather than more gun control, it was mocked by many in the media. But 62% of Americans with children of elementary or secondary school age would feel safer if their child attended a school with an armed security guard.

The president faced a couple of foreign policy flare-ups this past week, so we asked voters what they thought about them.

Following Obama’s decision to snub Russian President Vladimir Putin during an upcoming trip to Europe, U.S. voters’ views of Putin have worsened, but most think it’s unlikely the United States and Russia will reenter a Cold War period. Views of Russia are unchanged.

The Obama administration opted to temporarily close embassies and consulates in several Middle Eastern countries because of terrorist threats. Fifty percent (50%) of voters think U.S. involvement in Middle East politics is bad for America

Yet while 49% now believe most Muslims around the world view the United States as an enemy, just 19% think American Muslims living in this country are treated unfairly because of their religion and ethnicity

Fifty-eight percent (58%) think the Muslim-American U.S. Army officer now being tried for killing 13 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas should be sentenced to death if convicted, but that’s consistent with attitudes toward other suspected mass killers in recent years.

Republicans now hold a three-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot. This is the largest gap between the two parties since mid-April.

How did you do in this week’s Rasmussen Challenge? Check the leaderboard .

In other surveys last week: 

-- Most voters continue to think gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States. Only 32% believe that if a woman comes to the country illegally and gives birth to a child here, that child should automatically become a citizen. That’s the lowest finding measured since November 2011.

-- One-in-four Americans (25%) think mass transportation in this country is not as safe as it was 10 years ago. Most Americans seldom, if ever use mass transit, but they still tend to believe the government should back mass transit projects as long as they don’t lose money.  

-- Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters believe global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem, including 35% who consider it a Very Serious one.  

-- Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Americans, when given the choice, still prefer to read a printed version of a newspaper over the online version. But the number of adults who prefer print newspapers is the lowest measured in several years of tracking. Just 24% say they buy a print copy of their local paper every day or nearly every day, down from 31% four years ago.  

-- Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera and veteran catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals are the early fan favorites for MVP in the American and National leagues respectively.

-- With the second half of the Major League Baseball season underway, the Tigers are now the favorite to win the World Series. 

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