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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending July 18, 2015

Most of the news focus has been on the Republican side of the presidential race, but tonight in Iowa all five announced Democratic candidates will share the same stage for the first time. Does it matter?

Our brand new monthly Hillary Meter shows that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination next year. She may be pulled to the left on some positions by challengers Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, and the meter will be watching to see if the public perceives that as an ideological shift on Clinton’s part. 

It will be interesting to hear what the Democratic hopefuls have to say about the Obama administration’s just-concluded deal with Iran. The agreement which hopefully puts the brakes on the Iranian nuclear weapons development program is being criticized by Republicans - and Democrats - in Congress, and voters believe more strongly than ever that the president needs Congress’ okay before moving ahead on the deal with Iran.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has long been considered one of the more formidable contenders for next year’s Republican presidential nomination, but do GOP voters agree now that he’s formally entered the race?

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the current GOP front-runner according to our polling, caused a stir on the campaign trail recently when he said Americans need to work harder to get the U.S. economy back on its feet. But most voters feel strongly instead that the government and special interests have gamed the economy to deny Americans what they are due.

Voters have said in surveys for years that big business and big government generally work together against the interests of investors and consumers. They’ve also long felt that the federal government has become a special interest of its own.

How do Americans rate their workload anyway compared to those in most other countries?

Bush also made news recently by releasing 33 years of tax returns. Voters think all the candidates for the White House need to make their tax returns public.

Here’s a look at how all the announced presidential candidates stack up so far.

Congress is tied up again over the direction of the next federal budget, but voters aren’t holding their breath waiting for spending cuts

Most voters favor spending cuts in every program of the federal government, although that support lessens if the defense budget or entitlements are taken off the chopping block.

Puerto Rico is $72 billion in debt and can't pay its bills How do voters feel about a federal bailout of Puerto Rico? 

While a city like Detroit can declare bankruptcy, states don’t have that option. Do voters think bankruptcy protection should be extended to states? 

The state budget picture hasn't improved for most voters, even though they're much more likely to be paying higher rather than lower taxes these days.

Voters in states run mostly by Democrats are more likely than those in GOP-run states to feel their state government is too big, but all give similar performance reviews to those governments. 

Unlike most states and the federal government, it looks like consumers will be cutting back their spending in several areas next month. 

Thirty-one percent (31%) of voters now think the country is heading in the right direction

The president’s job approval rating remains in the negative mid-teens. 

In other surveys last week:

-- U.S. voters aren’t overly concerned that Greece’s financial problems will affect them personally.

-- Following what appears to be the largest cyberattack against the U.S. government in history, voters seriously doubt the government can protect their private information and question its performance at protecting secrets.

-- When the New York Stock Exchange, the Wall Street Journal and United Airlines all experienced outages due to technical difficulties last week, Americans took notice. Despite an all-clear from the Department of Homeland Security, many are still wondering.

-- The president recently hosted the head of Vietnam’s Communist Party at the White House in an effort to further strengthen America's relationship with its former foe, but how do voters here feel about that?

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