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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending December 15, 2018

The 115th Congress is winding to a close with Democrats positioning themselves for hyper-partisan challenges to President Trump’s agenda in their new role as the majority party in the House next year. But the final showdown next week will be over approval of a budget with or without a wall.

President Trump warned that a partial government shutdown is looming just in time for Christmas following a heated meeting with Democratic leaders earlier this week in which the two parties failed to agree on border-wall spending. Voters are getting more enthusiastic about building the wall, but they’re still not willing to risk a shutdown over it.

A proposal has been made to extend Medicare benefits to Americans of all ages. Voters are on the fence about the idea, but they do believe it would increase health care costs.

Several prominent Democrats trying to break out of the pack of potential 2020 presidential hopefuls are also proposing new large-scale government spending programs. But voters aren’t big on these income transfer programs, and few think they will reduce the level of poverty.

President Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address in 1981 that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” and voters still agree.

Meanwhile, most voters continue to believe the government has too much power over the individual citizen.

While it may not be apparent in national governance, the Christmas spirit is alive and well.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of Americans will be celebrating Christmas this holiday season, and they think a little more religion would go a long way.

Two-thirds American Adults (67%) believe Christmas should be more about Jesus Christ than about Santa Claus.

Most Americans continue to believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools, too, and that there’s a place for religious symbols on public land.

But with beloved holiday songs and shows now coming under fire for supposedly inappropriate messages, many are wondering whether free speech is officially dead.

In other surveys last week:

-- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, one of many Democrats with an eye on their party’s 2020 presidential nomination, tweeted last week that America’s future is female and “intersectional” (focused on overlapping areas of discrimination). But voters insist gender doesn’t drive how they vote.

-- Uber is restarting its testing of driverless cars, eight months after one of its self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian, but Americans aren’t any readier to embrace the technology.

-- Although 2018 isn’t ending with the same fervor of economic confidence that we saw at the beginning of the year, the final numbers are certainly nothing to sneeze at.

-- Forty-three percent (43%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

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