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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending January 9, 2016

Look for more debates next week, the Republicans on Thursday night, the Democrats on Sunday. More of the same or are these races in flux?

Our first Trump Change survey of the new year finds that belief among Republicans that Donald Trump will be the next GOP presidential nominee ties its highest level ever, and among all likely voters, more than ever agree.  

As the hopefuls for the Republican presidential nomination whale away at each other in TV ads in key states, most Americans continue to say negative ads are not necessary and actually backfire on the candidates who air them.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of Republicans are looking forward to this year’s presidential contest. Among Democrats, 50% are looking forward to the presidential race, but nearly as many (44%) have had enough of it already.

Following the most recent debate in mid-December, the race between the top two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination is closer than ever, but Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite among voters who are already certain of their vote in 2016.

Trump remains tied with Clinton in a hypothetical 2016 matchup.

Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife this past week in New Hampshire, but only 36% of voters now think the former president will help her run for the White House, down from 54% two years ago.

President Obama says in an op-ed in Friday’s New York Times that he will not support any presidential candidate who does not approve of his gun control efforts. Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats told Rasmussen Reports last October that an Obama endorsement is the most important to their vote. Among all voters, however, just 29% said an endorsement from the president is the one most likely to make them vote for a candidate.

Obama held a town hall on CNN Thursday to promote the new federal gun control initiatives he has put in place by executive order because he can’t get his plans through Congress. Voters don’t approve of the president’s decision to go it alone and don’t believe his actions will reduce the number of mass killings the country has experienced recently.

The president is already being challenged in federal court for his executive actions changing Obamacare and protecting up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation. He’s also expected to try to independently implement some of the measures in the recently concluded international climate change agreement despite strong congressional opposition.

While most voters think global warming merits immediate action, they also believe the government should only do what Congress and the president agree on. They do not want Obama going it alone on global warming or any other issue.

Also on Friday, the president vetoed a bill from Congress repealing major portions of the national health care law. It was the first time since Democratic majorities in the House and Senate passed Obamacare in 2010, that both chambers of Congress – now led by Republicans – have voted to repeal the controversial law. But Republicans don’t have the numbers to override his veto.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters think Congress and the president should repeal the health care law and start over again, but 49% say they should go through the law piece-by-piece to improve it. Only 11% favor keeping Obamacare as it is.

Reducing costs remains voters' top health care priority, and they continue to believe that keeping government out of the health care market is the best way to achieve that goal.

Voters aren’t happy with Obama or Congress.  They want them to work together but are far more likely to blame Congress than the president for preventing that from happening. 

Still, the president’s monthly job approval rating was at a 2015 low in December. His daily job approval ratings remain in the mid- to high negative teens.

Voters here are worried about the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran but think America needs to mind its own business. Just 37% think U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern politics is good for the United States.

More voters than ever see a worsening relationship between the United States and the Islamic world.

In other surveys last week:

-- For the third week in a row, just 26% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Our latest Consumer Spending Update finds that while consumers anticipate less retail spending this month after an expensive holiday season, look for them to be out and about more.

-- Americans are more disappointed with last year than they expected to be but are more confident about 2016.

-- Sixty-nine percent (69%) of adults under 40 say they have gone a week without using cash or coins.

-- The older the adult, the less likely he or she is to bank online.

-- One-in-five Americans (21%) now have at least one tattoo. That figure jumps to 38% among those under 40.

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