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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending December 29, 2018

President Trump continues to rattle the political establishment’s cage as his second year in office comes to a close.

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The federal government remains partially shutdown over Democrats’ refusal to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Voters are evenly divided - along predictable partisan lines - over whether the wall should be built in an effort to stop illegal immigration.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Republicans - and 21% of all voters - are willing to contribute to a private fund to build the wall if Congress won’t agree to pay for it.

But 52% of voters oppose a government shutdown over the wall funding issue.

Voters worry about the economic impact of a partial shutdown, although only 12% say past shutdowns have had a major impact on their lives.

Some Republicans have joined the anti-Trump chorus over the president’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. Intent on reducing the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, Trump has angered hawkish members of both major political parties, and voters tend to oppose his decision as well.

The president said earlier in the year that the “primary mission” in Syria was to get rid of ISIS and that America had “completed that task.” Voters agree the United States is winning the war against ISIS.

On the heels of Trump’s planned removal of troops from Syria, voters are far less likely to think the United States needs to be more hands-on in the Middle East

Eighty-nine percent (89%) rate the performance of the U.S. military as good or excellent. But 46% believe the U.S. military is overstretched these days.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters think the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, the highest level of confidence since Osama bin Laden was killed seven years ago.

The president’s daily job approval rating remains in the upper 40s, but perceptions of how Trump is dealing with the economy and foreign policy have fallen slightly.

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The Trump administration is planning to roll back race-based Obama-era school discipline policies, arguing that they have led to more lax discipline overall and a rise in school violence. Americans overwhelmingly agree that a student’s racial background should not be a factor in discipline.

Sixty percent (60%) believe discipline in public schools these days is too easy.

A panel investigating the massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school earlier this year has recommended that certain trained, vetted teachers be allowed to carry firearms in school, a proposal supported by the Trump administration’s Federal Commission on School Safety. Parents of school-age children continue to support the idea of armed teachers in the schools.

The Florida panel was also harshly critical of the government response at the time to the Parkland mass shooting. Less than two weeks after the killings in February, Americans by a 54% to 33% margin said the failure of government agencies to respond to numerous warning signs from the prospective killer was more to blame than a lack of adequate gun control.

In other surveys last week:

— Forty percent (40%) of voters still say the country is headed in the right direction.

— Americans continue to view Christmas as the most important holiday of the year. Over half said they would attend a religious service this holiday season.

— Just two days before Christmas, 16% still had not begun their holiday shopping. But then 67% of Americans believe Christmas is more about Jesus Christ than about Santa Claus.

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