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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending August 26, 2017

The battle over America’s history is likely to grow even more heated in the months ahead, with one side arguing that we can learn from the mistakes of the past and the other intent on erasing the parts they don’t like. 

Despite calls by protesters, politicians and the media for removing those connected to slavery from U.S. history, it looks like Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are going to be with us awhile longer. Voters strongly believe it’s better to learn from the past than erase it.

Only 40% think the Founding Fathers would consider the United States a success today.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans believe their fellow countrymen should be proud of the history of the United States, but 66% think most don’t know much about America's past. Thirty-seven percent (37%) don’t know when the Civil War took place.

Voters thought President Obama identified more with the protesters in places like Charlotte and Baltimore when they challenged the police. The media sides with the protesters, too, Americans say, but few think President Trump feels that way.

The media’s overheated reaction to what the president did and didn’t say following the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va. is the subject of this week’s Rasmussen Minute. 

Sixty-three percent (63%) of Republicans - and 50% of all voters - believe it is impossible for Trump to do anything that the media will approve of

Nearly half of voters feel the media is actively trying to block Trump’s agenda – a stark contrast to how voters felt about most reporters in the Obama years.

Just 28% of Americans believe they have true freedom of speech today, and most think the country is too politically correct.

Seventy-three percent (73%) insist that they are prepared to defend freedom of speech even at the cost of their lives if necessary.

After conservative pundit Ann Coulter was forced to cancel a planned speech at University of California, Berkeley, in the late spring following protests and threats of violence by some students. 44% of Americans said there is less freedom of speech on U.S. college campuses today than there has been in the past. Nearly half (47%) also believe most college administrators and professors are more interested in getting students to agree with certain politically correct points of view rather than in a free exchange of ideas.

The president in a speech to the nation Monday night announced that he is sending more troops to Afghanistan, America’s longest running war. But voters remain skeptical that victory in Afghanistan is possible.

After the United States dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS terror camp there in May, 45% of voters agreed Afghanistan remains a vital U.S. national security interest. By comparison, 75% see North Korea as a vital national security interest for the United States.

Will he or won’t he? The president strongly suggested in a speech in Phoenix last week that he will pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio following his conviction for criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting illegal immigrants. Forty-six percent (46%) of Republicans think Trump should pardon Arpaio, but just 17% of Democrats and 31% of unaffiliated voters agree.

At week’s end, the president’s daily job approval rating remains in the low 40s.  

In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty percent (30%) of voters say the country is headed in the right direction.

-- Voters are closely divided over whether the U.S. Navy is actually experiencing more mishaps these days or if the media is just drawing more attention to them now.

-- As parents gear up to send their children back to the classroom, most still think highly of their local schools but not nearly as much as they did a year ago.

-- Americans for years have thought more of their own local schools than of U.S. schools in general. Only 30% of voters rate the performance of elementary and secondary schools in America today as good or excellent.  Just 24% think most high school graduates have the skills needed for college. 

-- Americans with school-age children are evenly divided over whether the opening of school should be delayed until after Labor Day.

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