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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- For The Week Endine June 8, 2013

President Obama may have more than his share of problems these days, but things aren’t getting any better for Congress either.

Only six percent (6%) of Likely U.S. Voters give Congress good or excellent marks for the job it is doing. Just 24% believe their own representative in Congress is the best possible person for the job.

Thirty percent (30%) believe their own representative cares what they think. But only 16% think most members of Congress in general care what their constituents think.

Scott Rasmussen says in his latest weekly newspaper column that Congress’ listening problems are making the odds grow longer for immigration reform. “The so-called Gang of Eight proposal in the Senate legalizes the status of immigrants first and promises to secure the border later,” he explains. “By a 4-1 margin, voters want that order reversed.”

On What America Thinks this weekend, Senator David Vitter gives his assessment of the prospects for immigration reform this year. The Louisiana Republican is strongly opposed to the Gang of Eight plan. There also will be a discussion of the freedom of the press issues raised by the Justice Department's secret subpoenas of reporters' phone records.

The weekly television show, hosted by Scott Rasmussen, airs on 64 stations nationwide. Find a station near you

Voters haven’t changed their opinions about the motives behind the Justice Department’s actions. Forty-three percent (43%) still believe it was primarily an attempt to intimidate the media. Thirty-four percent (34%) think the department’s actions were primarily out of concern for national security.

The United States was founded on a belief that governments are created to protect certain unalienable rights. Today, however, more voters than ever (56%) view the federal government as a threat to those rights. That’s up 10 points from 46% in December.

Despite the controversies surrounding the White House, the president’s job approval ratings continue to hold fairly steady. Forty-nine percent (49%) of Likely Voters still consider the president a good or excellent leader. That shows little change from the past couple months but is down from a recent high of 55% measured in late December. 

For the month of May, the president's Total Job Approval Rating fell another point to 49% from 50% in April. That’s a continuing decline from a post-election high of 56% in December and puts his job approval rating back to where it was last September. However, it still remains a bit higher than it was for most of his first term in office.

The president put immigration reform and gun control at the top of his agenda this year, but fewer voters than ever (37%) now give him positive marks for his handling of both issues.

Voters continue to trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to handling the economy, the issue they consider most important to their vote. But for the first time since Election Day, the GOP has regained the trust advantage on the majority of major issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports, including immigration and gun control.

When it comes to voter trust, Republicans are far and away the leaders on handling government spending, while Democrats lead by a similar margin on environmental issues.

Republicans and Democrats are now tied on the Generic Congressional Ballot. For the last seven weeks, the gap between the two parties has been two points or less.

As projected by the Rasmussen Employment Index, the latest report on unemployment and job creation represented a modest improvement over earlier months. Twenty-three percent (23%) of workers report their firms are hiring, while 19% report their employer is laying people off. That’s little changed from the previous month, but marks the sixth straight month that reported hirings have outnumbered reported layoffs. Overall, worker confidence in the labor market inched up in May to the highest level measured since October 2007. However, it is still well below the confidence measured during periods of solid economic growth.

But 80% think it will be at least somewhat difficult for young people to find summer jobs in the current economy. That includes 41% who say it will be Very Difficult.

The Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure daily confidence among those groups continue to run at or near their highest levels since before the Wall Street collapse in 2008.

However, just 45% of voters now view the U.S. economy as even somewhat fair. Fifty-one percent (51%) consider the economy to be unfair.

Similarly, 45% think the U.S. economy is at least somewhat fair to people who are willing to work hard. Forty-nine percent (49%) think it’s unfair to these people.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of voters think an economic system that rewards hard work even if it leads to big differences between rich and poor is fairer than one that guarantees everyone equal income and equal wealth. Just 19% believe it's fairer to insure equality of income and wealth.

After all, 90% believe it is important that people who are physically able to work are required to support themselves. Ninety percent (90%) also think it’s important to insure that everyone who is willing to work hard has a chance to earn a middle class lifestyle, while 89% believe it is important that people who work hard earn more than those who don’t.

Most working Americans (66%) still consider themselves part of the middle class. Those who feel they are among the working poor remain at an all-time low of eight percent (8%). 

A plurality (37%) of workers plan on staying with their current company for at least five years, but when they do leave, 79% say it will be their decision.

Most voters believe the WikiLeaks release of classified documents is likely to have hurt U.S. national security, and 52% view Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of stealing the classified information for posting on the Internet, as a traitor who endangered lives and national security. Only 17% view Manning whose court-martial began this week as a heroic whistle-blower and political prisoner.

How did you do in the first week of the new Rasmussen Challenge? Check the leaderboard to see.

In other surveys last week:

-- Most voters still view the president’s national health care law unfavorably and believe that free-market competition will do more than government regulation to bring health care prices down.

-- Thirty-two percent (32%) of voters now say the country is heading in the right direction. That’s nearly identical to a year ago.

-- Sixty percent (60%) think it’s at least somewhat likely that the United States could end its dependence on foreign oil by developing shale oil reserves. Fifty-one percent (51%) believe the United States has enough shale oil to become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.

-- Facebook has outlined new steps to identify and remove hate speech. But while 22% of Americans think hate speech is a Very Serious problem in the United States today, just 12% of Facebook users regard it as a Very Serious problem on the social networking site.

-- Thirty-one percent (31%) favor a ban on hate speech. But 83% believe giving people the right to free speech is more important than making sure no one is offended by what others say.

-- Forty-one percent (41%) of Americans are planning a summer vacation this year. Forty percent (40%) say economic conditions have caused them to cut back on the amount they will spend on this year’s vacation, but that’s down from 53% last year and the lowest finding in five years of surveying.

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