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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- Week Ending January 26, 2013

President Obama remains a popular leader, but voters are less certain about the activist big government he championed Monday in his second inaugural address.

A plurality (45%) of voters, for example, continues to believe the financial bailouts were a bad move, and they prefer an economic system with more competition and less government regulation moving forward. 

The president has called for more government help for homeowners with mortgage problems, but only 18% of Americans believe the government should assist those who cannot afford their increased mortgage payments. That ties the lowest level of support ever.

The president wants wider access to student loans, but most Americans believe the availability of those loans has helped push up the cost of going to college and that lowering tuitions would do more for students than granting easier access to loans.

Despite the president’s opposition through the regulatory process, most voters continue to favor construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and think building the oil pipeline from western Canada to Texas will be good for the U.S. economy.

Voters give Obama mixed marks in the areas of job creation and small business, but predictably there's wide partisan disagreement.

Voters strongly believe that it was wrong for a suburban New York newspaper to publish the names and addresses of legitimate gun owners, but most also favor background checks for existing gun owners. Yet even as the president proposes a wide range of anti-gun initiatives, most Americans feel it is more important for the government to enforce existing gun control laws than to create new ones

Most voters still aren’t sure if their state has created a health care exchange as a requirement of the president’s national health care law, but support for creating one is up slightly from last month. 

The president is a strong advocate of economic fairness, but most voters (53%) see policies promoting economic growth as more important than those promoting economic fairness. 

These views are colored by how voters think most people become wealthy in America. Over half (52%) believe most people get rich because of their hard work. Twenty-eight percent (28%) think most get rich by inheriting money, and nine percent (9%) see luck as the key factor. Those who think the key to getting rich is inheritance or luck tend to see policies promoting economic fairness as more important. Those who see hard work as the key to getting rich favor policies promoting eocnomic growth by a three-to-one margin.

But voters are still waiting for the politicians in both parties to catch up. That’s the point of Scott Rasmussen’s latest book The People’s Money which is now available in paperback. The New York Times bestseller highlights ways voters are prepared to address the nation’s spending challenges including support for a more focused military mission, an end to corporate welfare and more consumer choice and competition in health care.

Scott highlights one of those issues, Social Security, in his latest weekly newspaper column and notes that this is “only one area where voters are ahead of their politicians.” The approach would give people the right to choose their own retirement age and make the system financially sustainable. “Hopefully, the politicians will catch up sooner rather than later.”

Voters overwhelmingly believe members of Congress should take a pay cut until the federal budget is balanced, and a plurality thinks the president should do the same.

Americans continue to oppose the creation of a national sales tax to raise more money for the government – unless it’s used to keep Social Security benefits the way they are now. Given a choice between keeping Social Security unchanged by adding a national sales tax or trimming future Social Security benefits, support for the sales tax jumps to 42%. Only 38% oppose it.

Voters still like the idea of replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax on all goods and services, even though they aren’t so sure it's a better way to raise money for the government. 

However, voters aren’t enthusiastic about proposals by several governors to eliminate state income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes

The Rasmussen Investor Index which measures daily confidence among investors hit a five-year high on Friday, and its companion Rasmussen Consumer Index is doing nearly as well. 

Homeowners remain more confident about both the short- and long-term housing market than they have been in several years. Most still believe their home is worth more than what they owe on their mortgage, and fewer homeowners than ever expect to miss or be late with a mortgage payment in the next six months

In this weekend's edition of What America Thinks, Scott Rasmussen looks at the economy with Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Christian Dorsey of the Economic Policy Institute. What America Thinks airs weekly on 61 television stations around the country. Find a station in your area.

Democrats continue to lead Republicans on the Generic Congressional Ballot as they have every week since Election Day. 

How did you do in the new  Rasmussen Challenge? Check the leaderboard to find out.

In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty-five percent (35%) of voters now say the country is heading in the right direction

-- Americans still hold strongly favorable views of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

-- Voters are almost evenly divided as to whether the president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world, but half think he has the right amount of power. 

-- Some feel it's already long overdue, but 79% of voters think a woman will be elected president of the United States in the next 25 years. 

-- Taking a quick look at two possible Republican presidential contenders, 36% of voters have a favorable opinion of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, while 43% view Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan favorably.

-- Sixty-eight percent (68%) of voters believe members of Congress should be banned from lobbying for five years after they leave office. 

-- Most Americans believe local and state governments should obtain insurance to financially protect their public properties and feel this would help lower disaster relief costs to taxpayers which run into the billions of dollars. 

-- Most movie goers prefer to watch a movie in the comfort of their own home, and when a new film comes out, they wait to hear about it from friends and family before seeing it.

-- Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos are the top choices of football fans for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins quarterback, is the top pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

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Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen "America's Insurgent Pollster." The Washington Post described him as "a driving force in American politics."  If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.

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