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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls: Week Ending June 21

Americans are more unhappy about the overall economy despite signs that the housing industry is recovering at last. Is government spending at least partially to blame?

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Likely Voters now believe that the U.S. economy is unfair to the middle class, and 61% say it’s unfair to all Americans. Both are at their highest levels in a year-and-a-half.

This takes on added significance when you consider that 83% of working Americans consider themselves middle class 

The economy and health care continue to be the top issues on voters’ minds as they head into the upcoming elections, but government spending has now worked its way into the top three on the list of 15 major issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.  

Voters still believe that cutting spending – and taxes – will do more to help the economy than raising them will

Only 24% think the federal government should increase spending in reacting to the nation's economic problems. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe the government should cut spending instead.  Fifty-six percent (56%) think thoughtful spending cuts should be considered in every program of the federal government

But most (55%) also still expect government spending to increase under President Obama, and only nine percent (9%) expect their taxes to go down.

This helps explain why the president’s daily job approval ratings continue to bump along at the negative levels seen for much of his presidency. 

Still, while consumer and investor confidence this week fell further from recent highs, they remain well ahead of where they’ve been for the past several years. 

There also are increasing signs that the housing bust may be behind us. Forty-four percent (44%) of Americans now say it’s a good time for someone in their area to be selling a house. This is the first time this number has broken the 40% mark in over five years of regular surveying.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of homeowners expect their home’s value to go up over the next year, the highest level of short-term confidence in five years of regular tracking. Fifty-five percent (55%) expect their home’s value to go up over the next five years.

Americans continue to frown on government help for the housing market, though. Only 21% believe that if someone cannot afford to make increased mortgage payments, the government should assist them. Most (63%) still think people in that situation should sell their home and find a less expensive one.

Other economic indicators are less reassuring.  

Americans remain slow to recover their faith in the nation's banks since 2008's financial meltdown. Fifty-two percent (52%) say they are confident in the banking system again this month, but that compares to 68% in July 2008. 

Concern about inflation is still very high, and the number who expect their grocery bills to keep going up (74%) is at its highest level in nearly two years.

As for health care, just 24% of voters believe the quality of care in America will get better under Obamacare, and most (56%) still think costs will continue to rise.

Iraq is back in the news as an al-Qaeda-led insurgency threatens to topple the democratically elected government the U.S. military left behind two years ago. Forty-six percent (46%) of voters favor the United States making military airstrikes there to help the government fight back, but 60% oppose returning U.S. troops to Iraq

With congressional hearings about the Benghazi issue beginning soon, the Obama administration made the surprising announcement this week that it has captured the Islamic militant suspected of masterminding the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. Voters strongly believe the suspect in the Benghazi killings should be tried in U.S. courts and, if found guilty, 64% think he should be sentenced to death. 

Thousands of young illegal immigrants are flooding the border in what appears to be a concerted effort by some of our southern neighbors to dump their economic problems on the United States.

Americans are slightly more supportive of increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States if the federal government can fully secure the border first to prevent future illegal immigration. But 58% still want to decrease legal immigration or keep it about the same.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) believe the United States should welcome all potential immigrants, other than national security threats, who are willing to work hard and able to support their family. But slightly more (43%) disagree.

One problem is that while 71% of voters have a favorable opinion of immigrants who work hard to pursue the American Dream, only 49% now think most immigrants are working hard to support their family and pursue that dream.

Just 26% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest weekly finding since early December 2013.

In other surveys this week:

-- Democrats lead Republicans by two points on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

-- Fifty-one percent (51%) of Likely New Jersey Voters approve of the job Chris Christie is doing as governor, but 43% believe the budget situation in the state is worse now that it was a year ago.

-- Democrat Cory Booker, running for reelection after less than a year in office, holds a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Jeff Bell in New Jersey’s U.S. Senate race.

-- Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans believe being a father is the most important role for a man to fill in today’s world.

-- Thirty-nine percent (39%) will watch the World Cup soccer championships this year, up from 29% who were following the games in 2010 and 21% four years earlier.

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