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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- For the Week Ending June 22, 2013

Webster’s Dictionary defines “trust” as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.” Americans don’t have a lot of it these days as far as the federal government is concerned.

Just 35% of Americans now have a favorable impression of the federal government. That compares to 46% who view their state government favorably and 54% who feel that way about their local government.

Distrust is growing when it comes to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups. Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters now believe the IRS actions were politically motivated, and 70% think the orders came from Washington, D.C. Sixty-seven percent (67%) believe it is likely that other government agencies targeted conservative groups as well. All these levels of skepticism are up several points from a month ago.

President Obama and other senior government officials say the National Security Agency’s recently disclosed secret  surveillance program has deterred several terrorist attacks, but only 35% of Americans believe they are telling the truth. Forty-five percent (45%) think instead that they are just trying to justify the government’s spying on the phone and e-mail records of millions of innocent Americans.

Not that Americans are rallying to the man who leaked information about the surveillance program to the media. Just 12% view Edward Snowden as a hero, while 21% consider him a traitor. The majority of Americans think he’s something in between the two or feel it’s too early to decide.

After all, 57% think it is at least somewhat likely that public disclosure of the surveillance program has hurt this country’s national security. Still, only 15% think a reporter who gets leaked information from a government whistleblower should be prosecuted for publishing the information.

“None of the public players comes off looking great in the NSA story,” Scott Rasmussen says in his latest weekly newspaper column. “But there is now an opportunity for a healthy debate on the issue. It's not partisan. President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney are on the same side. The nation needs a serious discussion about what kind of oversight and protection is needed to honor the Constitution while still effectively fighting the terrorists who want to end our way of life.”

On What America Thinks this weekend, Scott reviews the latest numbers on the NSA and IRS controversies. The show also features a discussion of the United States' growing involvement in Syria. Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters oppose the Obama administration’s decision to give military aid to the anti-government rebels there. Republican Congressman "Doc" Hastings talks about new energy legislation as well.

What America Thinks airs on 64 stations nationwide. Find a station near you.

Neither political party seems to have a trust advantage as voters increasingly sour on official Washington. Democrats and Republicans are now tied on the Generic Congressional Ballot at 39% apiece. This is the first time since June 2009 that both parties are below 40%.

Americans also are fed up with the so-called "revolving door" through which government officials frequently pass to take jobs with the very industries they regulated. Seventy-five percent (75%) favor at least a five-year ban on regulators working for companies they regulate, including 48% who think regulators should be banned for life from working for the companies they oversee. That’s a 16-point jump from two years ago.

Seventy-three percent (73%) don’t think it’s a good idea to let government regulators pass rules without approval from Congress. At the same time, 75% believe members of Congress should be required to publicly disclose all meetings and contacts with regulators and government officials. After all, just six percent (6%) of voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job these days.

Meanwhile, the president’s overall job approval ratings fell this past week to their lowest level since last August. This is despite the fact that the Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes, which measure daily confidence in both groups, have been at or near six-year highs for several days.

Obama’s national health care law has been a point of contention among voters for much of his presidency, and they continue to give the president lukewarm marks for his handling of health care. Just 36% now rate the president’s handling of health care issues as good or excellent, down from 44% in February and the lowest finding this year.

With the health care law scheduled for full implementation by next year, voters are increasingly pessimistic about the short-term prospects for health care in America. Fifty-seven percent (57%) believe the U.S. health care system is likely to get worse in the next couple years, up from 50% last November.

So other than their local government, what do most Americans have faith in these days?

For one thing, 57% say it is not possible to have a healthy community without churches. Eighty-six percent (86%) think it’s good for a community to have a church provide services such as food banks, disaster relief, schools and hospitals.

At the same time (here comes the federal government again), 41% believe that the U.S. Supreme Court is too hostile towards religion.

Most working Americans (71%) would recommend their company as a good place to work, but then 66% feel their company values them as an employee. By comparison, just 16% of voters think most members of Congress care what they think.

How did you do in this week’s Rasmussen Challenge? Check the leaderboard.

In other news this week:

-- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction. That’s virtually unchanged from a year ago and consistent with voter attitudes for more than three months now.

-- Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan have stalled, but just one-in-three voters now consider America’s longest-running war a Very Important voting issue

-- Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans are at least somewhat confident in the stability of the U.S. banking industry today. In July 2008 shortly before the Wall Street meltdown, 68% were confident in U.S. banks. 

-- Most Americans say they are paying about the same amount in interest rates compared to last year, but half now expect those rates to rise over the next year.

-- Most voters believe tax-exempt groups should publicly disclose all of their donors even though most recognize some will be harassed by political opponents. 

-- With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to issue several major end-of-the term rulings, more voters than ever (40%) think the justices are too liberal

-- With two months to go until the Democratic primary and four months until Election Day, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is in a strong position to become New Jersey’s next U.S. senator

-- Thirty-seven percent (37%) of New Jersey voters would like to see Governor Chris Christie run for president in 2016, and 44% of voters in his home state would vote for him. 

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Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen "America's Insurgent Pollster." The Washington Post described him as "a driving force in American politics."  If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.

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