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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending June 4, 2016

The level of support for Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump isn’t moving up, feeding interest in third-party candidates like former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, chosen last weekend as the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee.

Clinton and Trump remain tied in our latest White House Watch survey, but both have been hovering around the 40% mark for several weeks.

However, new numbers show that Johnson makes no major difference in the contest between the two likely major party candidates at this point.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest ranking Republican in Congress, ended his holdout and announced Thursday that he is backing Trump’s bid for the presidency. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Republicans – but just 32% of all voters – say a Ryan endorsement of Trump is important to their vote this fall. 

Trump appears to be steadily unifying his party, but Clinton still faces a tough challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Most Democrats, however, think their party is likely to come together after its convention in late July and expect Sanders to endorse Clinton. Even in Sanders wins Tuesday’s California primary, Clinton should have enough delegates to win the nomination, thanks to the party’s superdelegate set-up.

Clinton strongly criticized Trump in a speech on Thursday as a threat to years of general bipartisan agreement on the direction of U.S. foreign policy. But most voters agree with Trump’s call for an America First foreign policy, saying that for too long the United States has not been putting its own interests ahead of others.

Republicans have a lot more confidence in Trump’s honesty than Democrats do in Clinton’s. 

Following a damaging report from the State Department’s inspector general, 65% of all voters consider it likely that Clinton broke the law by sending and receiving e-mails containing classified information through a private e-mail server while secretary of State. Still, 71% of Democrats say Clinton should continue campaigning even if indicted and stay in the race until a court determines her guilt or innocence.

Trump earlier this week lashed out at the media’s negative coverage of his financial donations to veterans organizations. Voters are far more likely to think the media is biased against Trump than against Clinton. 

Most voters say a briefly considered debate between Trump and Sanders wouldn’t have impacted their vote this November.

Voters have consistently considered the economy the most important issue in recent elections, and as the 2016 election approaches, this still appears to be the case.

Only 46% think the U.S. economy in general is fair, and just 36% say it is fair to the middle class. Most continue to believe the U.S. economy is fair to women and minorities but not to low-income Americans 

A majority of voters, though, also believe that economic growth is more important than economic fairness, and they favor policies that expand the economy over policies that promote fairness.

Just 28% think the country is headed in the right direction.

Louisiana last week became the first state to enact a so-called “Blue Lives Matter” law which classifies attacks on police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel as hate crimes. Most voters favor laws that designate certain acts of violence as hate crimes and agree that police and first responders should be protected under those laws.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters think there is a war on police in America today. Sixty percent (60%) believe comments critical of the police by some politicians make it more dangerous for police officers to do their jobs.

Black Lives Matters activists and other critics of “Blue Lives Matter” laws claim they will further heighten community tensions. Most voters view the Black Lives Matter movement unfavorably.  Perhaps in part that’s because they tend to think the U.S. justice system is less likely to be unfair to blacks than to Americans in general.

In other surveys last week:

-- The president continues to earn some of his best daily job approval ratings ever. Obama earned a monthly job approval of 50% in May, unchanged from April which marked the highest finding since April 2013.

-- Still, a sizable number of voters continue to believe Obama has ignored the U.S. Constitution more than most other presidents, and those voters overwhelmingly believe he's been motivated by politics rather than doing the right thing. His defenders strongly disagree.

-- A sizable number of Americans consider Memorial Day one of the nation’s most important holidays, and most planned to do something special to honor it.  

-- Memorial Day honored those in the military who have given their lives for our country, but Americans have been honoring the military in Rasmussen Reports surveys for years

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