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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending June 25, 2015

The shooting massacre at a black church by a young white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina late last week was a tragic development in the nation’s ongoing conversation on race relations. Following the shooting, several prominent politicians - including Republican Governor Nikki Haley - called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state’s capitol grounds.

Sixty percent (60%) of Likely U.S. Voters agree with this view and say the Confederate flag should not be flown at South Carolina’s statehouse. However, voters are more divided as to what the flag means: 43% say it symbolizes Southern heritage, while 39% say it symbolizes hatred. There’s a sharp difference of opinion between white and black voters on this question.

Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identifies as black, recently resigned her post as president of a Washington chapter of the NAACP amidst outrage over her racial identity. Interestingly, black voters are far less critical of Dolezal and don’t think she should have left her job at the NAACP. Still, most voters of all ethnicities believe that racial identity is determined by birth, not preference.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is set to release new regulations meant to diversify wealthy neighborhoods, but voters overwhelmingly say that it is not the government’s job to try to bring those of different income levels to live together. A majority of voters (59%) say the racial or ethnic makeup of the neighborhood was not important in deciding where to live, including 27% who say it is Not At All Important. 

In other news this week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down several major rulings, including one that will uphold federal subsidies for health insurance even in states that don’t have health care exchanges under Obamacare. Most voters (62%) say the best way to reduce health care costs is through more free market competition between insurance companies, while 26% say more government regulation will lower costs. More than half (52%) say letting states compete to determine the more effective standards and guidelines would do more to reduce health care costs, compared to 38% who say having the federal government establish a single set of standards and regulations is better at cost control.

The high court also ruled that same-sex marriage be legal in all 50 states. Voters are still fairly divided over the issue of gay marriage: 46% favor same-sex marriages, up from a low of 42%, while 41% oppose. But one-in-three think it should be up to the state to decide.

We’ll release new findings on the Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage next week.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is the latest addition to the crowded Republican field in 2016, but he ranks low among GOP voters.  

In other surveys last week:

-- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last week that food companies have three years to phase out partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, and voters appear to be on board with the idea.

-- The Republican party has been getting lots of news coverage lately, due to its ever-growing candidate pool for the 2016 presidential election. But while GOP contenders have been throwing their hats in the ring left and right, what’s happening on the Democratic side, especially its main frontrunner, Hillary Clinton? We decided to find out what America thinks.

-- Voters still strongly believe the order of events, marriage then children, is important in starting a family.

-- When it comes to building wealth, voters don’t see an easy way out: they still believe most people get rich by working hard.

-- Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Likely U.S. Voters now think the country is heading in the right direction.

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