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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending February 14, 2015

Words, words, words. Words make a difference. Take “net neutrality."

It sounds good, right? After all, it’s “neutral,” and supporters, including President Obama and the Democratic majority on the Federal Communications Commission, say it will ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field. But critics who include congressional Republicans say net neutrality is really just a cover for government control of the Internet, and they don’t like where that leads.

Most Americans approve of the FCC’s regulation of radio and TV, but far fewer think the FCC should have the same regulatory power over the Internet.  Most still believe the best way to protect those who use the Internet is more free market competition rather than more government regulation.

After all, Americans continue to give high marks to their online service even as the government insists that regulatory control will make it better.

Words also brought down NBC News evening anchor Brian Williams who was caught in a lie about his experiences during the invasion of Iraq. Americans tend to think Williams hurt NBC’s credibility and agree with the decision to drop him from the evening news.

Fewer Americans are getting their news predominately from television anyway, and they trust the news they are getting less than they did a year ago.

Speaking of words, the president caused an uproar the other day in remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast when he equated atrocities by the radical Islamic group ISIS with past sins of Christianity. But a plurality of voters agrees with what he said.

That doesn’t mean voters are letting Muslims off the hook. Seventy-five percent (75%) agree that Islamic religious leaders need to do more to emphasize the peaceful beliefs of their faith, and 52% believe Islam as practiced today encourages violence more than most other religions.

Most Americans say their religious faith is important in their daily lives  and think this nation would be better off if people practiced their faith more often.

The president this week asked Congress to authorize more military force against ISIS up to and including the use of combat troops, but are most Americans willing to go that far?

Also on the speaking front, the president proposed $74 billion in new spending in his State of the Union address last month, and Republicans predictably said, no way. But it appears Democrats weren't strongly persuaded either

Congress at week’s end sent a bill to the president calling for construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline from western Canada to Texas, but Obama has vowed to veto it. Voters wish he wouldn’t.

Voters also remain opposed to the president’s decision to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.

Keep a close eye on our Daily Presidential Tracking Poll and our Consumer/Investor Index that measures daily confidence in both groups. They all fell back this week from beginning-of-the-year highs, but it’s too soon to tell if that’s a trend in the making.

Republicans have inched ahead on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi remain the best-known and least-liked leaders in Congress. Voters continue to overwhelmingly favor term limits for members of Congress.

In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty-four percent (34%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction. The number of voters who think the country is heading in the right direction has been 30% or higher for the last seven weeks after being in the mid- to high 20s most weeks since mid-June 2013.

-- Medical professionals strongly support vaccinations for children and say there is no scientific evidence that they do more harm than good. But what does America think?

-- A commercial airliner landing in Los Angeles last weekend reported a near miss with an unmanned drone, the latest of such incidents to make the news. With more and more drones flying, voters are becoming a lot more concerned about air safety.

-- Most voters oppose criminalizing smoking and growing marijuana in the privacy of one’s home.

-- Is it love or is it Valentine’s Day? Most Americans aren’t planning anything very special to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

-- If a black cat crosses your path, what do you do? Do you walk under ladders? How superstitious is the average American?

-- Beware of Friday the 13th?

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