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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending January 2, 2016

Hope is dwindling, and a desire for change is in the air.

Just 26% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction

In the weeks since mid-September, the number of voters who feel the country is heading in the right direction has been at the 24% to 26% level more than half the time – at or near the low for the year. 

More than a third of Americans say they are in worse financial shape than they were last year at this time, and most of them expect to be even worse off 12 months from now.

As President Obama enters his final year as president, voters are more critical than ever of his leadership abilities. His daily job approval ratings, meanwhile, remain in the mid- to high negative teens. 

But voters including members of their own party aren’t pleased with the Republicans’ control of both chambers of Congress this past year either. No wonder then that GOP voters are gravitating toward outsider candidates like Donald Trump in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump gained early traction with his call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and for deporting illegal immigrants. Most voters continue to believe the government isn’t cracking down enough on illegal immigration and still take issue with a central provision in Obama’s plan to exempt up to five million illegals from deportation. 

That’s no surprise since most voters still oppose the president’s amnesty plan

Voters think the media is more biased against Trump than Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in the media coverage of their views on immigration.

Clinton vowed earlier this month to unleash her husband, former President Bill Clinton, on the campaign trail on her behalf in January, but that’s looking less like a good idea. When she recently criticized Trump as “a sexist,” he countered by saying she had long been protecting a sexual abuser, referring to her husband’s history of extramarital affairs including one with White House intern Monica Lewinsky which led to his impeachment. The media has been full of that back-and-forth for several days since our poll was taken.

Trump and Clinton remain all tied up in a hypothetical presidential matchup.

After months of allegations, legendary comedian Bill Cosby has been formally charged with sexual assault. By last summer, Americans already had a much more negative view of Cosby but stopped short of calling for his Presidential Medal of Freedom to be revoked.

Most working Americans still get major holidays off, especially if they work for the government.

Americans have long believed that government workers work less hard but earn more pay and have more job security than those in the private sector. 

But Americans used the U.S. Postal Service more this holiday season compared to recent years.

In other surveys last week:

-- Most Americans planned to greet 2016 with a kiss.

-- Most aren’t starting off the new year with a resolution, but those who are plan to stick with it.

-- Christmas remains the top holiday on Americans’ calendar, while New Year’s Day still falls a lot farther down the list.

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