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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending December 26, 2015

Some may consider it politically incorrect to say so, but America remains a strongly Christian nation.

A sizable majority of Americans still believe the central Christian tenet that Jesus Christ is the son of God sent to Earth to die for their sins. Most will attend religious services this holiday season.

Americans continue to regard Christmas, the day that celebrates the birth of Christ, as the nation’s most important holiday.

Seventy-one percent (71%) say their religious faith is important in their daily life, with 49% who consider it Very Important. Fifty-seven percent (57%) say it is not possible to have a healthy community without churches or a religious presence.

Among adults with school-age children at home, 82% favor celebrating Christmas in public schools, and 61% believe there should be more religion in those schools.

Among all Americans, Christmas remains more about Jesus Christ than Santa Claus. That’s probably why 64% prefer stores with signs saying “Merry Christmas” over ones with “Happy Holidays.”

Americans by the way have been flocking to the stores this holiday season and buying at a record pace. However, most will use the Internet for at least some of their shopping.

A lot of Americans will be traveling again this holiday season.

The Republican-controlled Congress hustled out of Washington, D.C. for the holidays after passing a $1.1 trillion budget. As President Obama left town for a Hawaiian vacation, a gleeful White House said the budget funds all his priorities. But voters don’t want to see more spending from the federal government.

Congress and the president earlier this month scrapped the national education dictates of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law and returned control of school standards to states and localities. Americans favor getting the feds out of the classroom.

Voters still agree on the importance of a world-class education but also remain convinced that U.S. public schools don't provide one. Only 23% think most high school graduates have the skills needed for college.

Hillary Clinton’s performance at last Saturday’s debate – focusing much of her fire on Donald Trump and the Republican presidential field – suggests the former secretary of State doesn’t see her Democratic rivals as worth her full attention anymore

Following the debate, the race between Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the top two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, is closer than ever, but Clinton is the heavy favorite among Democrats who are already certain of their vote in 2016.

Our latest monthly Hillary Meter shows Clinton still comfortably ahead in the expectations game.

Trump remains the leader in Rasmussen Reports’ latest look at the race for the Republican presidential nomination following the GOP’s most recent debate.

Most voters don’t care too much for Russian President Vladimir Putin but don’t think Putin's recent praise of Trump will hurt the latter’s bid for the presidency.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-six percent (26%) of voters think the country is heading in the right direction, consistent with polling for much of this year.

-- The president’s daily job approval ratings remain in the high negative teens.

-- Despite society’s ever-growing reliance on the Internet, most voters still prefer to turn on the television to get their political news.

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