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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending August 8, 2015

The presidential season is officially open with last Thursday night’s Republican debates, and for many GOP voters, at least, it couldn’t come too soon.

Ninety percent (90%) of Republicans told us they are likely to watch some of the GOP candidate debates, and if the early numbers are any indicator, a lot of them tuned in Thursday. Republicans are planning at least 11 debates in all.

The Democratic National Committee announced on Thursday that six debates are scheduled for Hillary Clinton and her opponents, some of whom are already complaining that that’s not enough. We’ll find out next week what voters think about the number of Democratic debates.

Republicans, with 17 announced major candidates for the party’s nomination, actually started with two debates on Thursday, but it was the 9 p.m. Eastern primetime lineup that was the one the vast majority was watching. Fox News late Tuesday announced which 10 candidates would be in that debate, based on the five most recent polls. But Rasmussen Reports had the same list a week earlier.

As expected, illegal immigration was a hot topic at the debates. After all, voters favor deportation of illegals a lot more than the federal government does these days.

All the GOP candidates called for defunding Planned Parenthood because of its sale of the body organs of aborted babies, but are voters ready to go that far?  [Conservatives complain that the killing of Cecil the Lion in Africa has gotten more attention from the media than Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body organs, although both stories are being widely followed.]

Are Republicans already losing the presidential race because of their outspoken social conservatism?

Donald Trump was less emphatic about social issues than some of his rivals on the stage Thursday night and was the one participant who refused to say he wouldn’t run as a third-party candidate if he didn’t get the GOP nomination. Could Trump put a crimp in Republican hopes to reclaim the White House?

Democratic voters are closely divided over a Joe Biden presidential bid, but voters in general think Biden would make a better president than Hillary Clinton.

Most voters like Clinton’s ambitious plan to combat global warming but admit the issue isn’t of high importance to their voting decisions.

President Obama earlier this week announced an even more ambitious plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but voters see more costs than rewards. Republicans view the plan as an economy-killer.

Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress don’t agree on much, though, and voters blame partisan politics more than an honest difference of opinion

Seventy-nine percent (79%) think it is more important for Congress and the president to work together to achieve what’s best for the country rather than to stand for what they believe in.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the Democratic senator the New York Times describes as “the most influential Jewish voice in Congress,” announced Thursday that he will oppose the president’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Voters aren’t enthusiastic about the deal that ends some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for verifiable cutbacks in the Iranian nuclear program and think Congress needs to approve it first.

Are Americans worried that terrorism is coming closer to home?

The president’s monthly job approval rating was up two points in July but remains in the negative mid-teens.  Obama’s daily job approval ratings remain where they have been for most of his presidency. 

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Likely U.S. Voters now think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Americans may be going out to eat less, but does that mean you’ll be waiting less time to be seated?

-- Many regard the 1960 novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" as one of the most significant American literary achievements of the 20th Century. Who’s read it, and who plans to read its just-released sequel, “Go Set A Watchman”?

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