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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending August 1, 2015

With less than a week to go before the first Republican debate, Rasmussen Reports’ first national presidential survey of Likely GOP Voters this year shows Donald Trump with his biggest lead yet.  Now it’s up to the billionaire developer to show voters that he deserves it.

In the early going, Jeb Bush was seen as having the best shot at the Republican presidential nomination, although his last name is a drawback for some. 

But Trump has dominated the headlines in recent weeks with his criticism of illegal immigration and his sparring with senior Republican establishment figures. He’s more popular with GOP voters now than John McCain, who was the party’s presidential nominee in 2008. Voters will be watching next week to see if Trump is for real.

Trump’s comments mirror the growing unhappiness among conservative Republicans with their representatives in Washington. This unhappiness came to a head recently when Senator Ted Cruz, another Republican presidential hopeful, called the Senate leader of his own party a liar after a legislative maneuver that tricked conservatives out of a key vote. Is the GOP on the brink of civil war?

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republicans agreed with Cruz recently when he responded to Jeb Bush’s comment about the need for Americans to work harder by saying: “The problem is not that Americans aren't working hard enough. It is that the Washington cartel of career politicians, special interests and lobbyists have rigged the game against them.” Just 38% of Republicans agreed with Bush.

But most Republicans like Bush’s proposal for a 10% cut in the federal workforce as part of his budgetary assault on what he calls “Mount Washington.”

There’s controversy on the Democratic side, too. Two federal inspectors general have asked the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation into how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handled sensitive information on her private e-mail account. Most voters continue to have national security concerns about Clinton’s behavior but doubt that the federal government will do anything about it.

Is the media more interested in creating controversy or in explaining where presidential candidates stand on the issues?

In a recent speech criticizing African political leaders who stay too long in office, President Obama said he could win a third term if he ran for president again but acknowledged that U.S. law does not allow it. Naturally, we asked voters if Obama could win again.

The president certainly isn’t helped by daily job approval ratings that remain in the negative mid-teens. 

Despite its recent victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, the president’s health care law also is still disliked by most voters who expect it to worsen the quality of care and make it more expensive.  Only 13% want to keep Obamacare as is. 

Voters strongly reiterated this past week that the president and the GOP Congress need to start working together to achieve what’s best for the country.  

Likely adding to concerns voters already have about domestic terrorism, FBI Director James Comey recently announced that the radical Islamic State group (ISIS) now poses a bigger security threat to the United States than al-Qaeda does. Americans seem to agree.

When it comes to hot-button issues facing the nation, does the age of voters matter?

In other surveys last week:

-- The number of voters who think the country is heading in the right direction is trending down again.

-- Voters still tend to think America’s best days have come and gone. But most also continue to believe America is a good place to live. 

-- Voters are okay with legal immigration and those who come to the United State to pursue the American Dream, but they strongly believe new immigrants should assimilate

-- School textbooks remain a central issue in the cultural battle over America’s past, and voters continue to strongly believe most textbooks value political correctness over accuracy.

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