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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending February 2, 2019

The job market and the manufacturing sector are booming, completely unaffected by the just concluded federal government shutdown. But Americans are still unhappy.

Only 34% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction, a figure that ran in the 40s most weeks last year. It was in the 20s for much of 2016, President Obama’s last full year in office.

Most voters see America as a more divided country since President Trump was elected and think he’s chiefly to blame.

Sixty-five percent (65%) also think social media like Facebook and Twitter make us a more divided nation. Those under 40 are far more likely than their elders to have their politics shaped by social media.

Most blame Trump for the government shutdown which ended January 25 after a record five weeks. However, the number of voters who say they have been badly hurt by the shutdown remains small.

The shutdown was triggered by congressional Democrats’ refusal to fund the president’s border security plan which includes the building of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump agreed to a temporary halt of the shutdown while a bipartisan congressional panel wrestles with the border security issue. But voters don’t expect Congress to fund the wall and think another shutdown is likely on the way.

The president, meanwhile, told The New York Times this week that he has given up on negotiating with Congress over funding for a border wall, but voters tend to think he will build the wall anyway.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Republicans - and 21% of all voters - say they would contribute money to a private fund set up to build the wall if Congress refuses to fund it.

Voters still say it’s easier to enter and stay in the United States illegally than it is in most other countries. But only 14% now believe it is too easy to become a U.S. citizen. Most say the level of difficulty to achieve citizenship is about right.

Just 22% believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Forty-eight percent (48%) rate its performance as poor.

The president’s daily job approval remains in the low 40s.

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump's job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports' Daily Presidential Tracking Poll,  please send e-mail to beth@rasmussenreports.com .

Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the favorite candidate among Democrats to be the party’s 2020 presidential nominee. But as support for California Senator Kamala Harris rises, support for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is fading.

Only 35% think it is even somewhat likely that Harris will be the Democratic nominee, but it’s very early in the process. Like most newcomers, name recognition is everything at this stage.

While most Americans still think a college degree is essential to finding employment, just 23% now feel that a traditional four-year institution offers the best value for the money.

In a survey during graduation season last May, however, only 32% said most college graduates have the skills needed to enter the workforce.

In other surveys last week:

-- Americans have decidedly mixed views of star quarterback Tom Brady, but they expect him to lead the New England Patriots to victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII.

-- Forty-one percent (41%) of voters think the United States should do more to encourage the growth of democracy in socialist Venezuela as political turmoil grows there.

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