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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending March 16, 2013

Beware of the new elites who are rewriting the rule book, so that special privilege takes the place of hard work, Scott Rasmussen warns in his latest weekly newspaper column.  “The United States is supposed to be a land of opportunity where everyone can pursue their dreams,” he writes. “But those on top today are busy rewriting the rules to limit entry into their club.”

Meagan McArdle calls them America’s New Mandarins in a recent column which she discussed with Scott on What America Thinks. As McArdle sees it, these mandarins think they know what’s best for the rest of us. 

Congressman Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, will be Scott’s guest this weekend to discuss the president’s meeting with the House Republican caucus and Washington’s never-ending budget debate. What America Thinks is a weekly television show currently available on 61 stations. Find a station near you. In April, new affiliates will be carrying the show in Las Vegas, NV, Lexington, KY, and Beaumont, TX. Joining the list in the fall will be stations in Binghamton, NY, Austin, TX, and Duluth, MN.

A state Supreme Court judge has stopped New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on the sale of large sugary drinks, and Americans couldn’t agree more.  Only nine percent (9%) believe the government has the constitutional authority to prevent the sale of such drinks. While 88% believe that childhood obesity is a problem, just 39% think the government should be involved in efforts to solve it.

Perhaps if the new elites were more mindful of voters’ real-life concerns, there would be less unhappiness with those in charge. But right now just 12% think the U.S. Senate is doing a good or excellent job, while 19% say the same of the House of Representatives.

Congressional leaders are as unpopular as ever. Fifty-three percent (53%) have an unfavorable opinion of Nancy Pelosi, 50% say the same about Harry Reid, and 49% offer a negative opinion about John Boehner. Forty-eight percent (48%) have an unfavorable opinion of Vice President Joe Biden.  Mitch McConnell has lower negatives because he is less well known.

The elites got a wake-up call of sorts with Senator Rand Paul’s recent filibuster forcing the Obama administration to say categorically it would not use drones to attack U.S. citizens in this country. Paul was quickly criticized by John McCain and Lindsey Graham, senior senators in his own party, but the public largely sided with the first-term Kentucky senator. Republicans now have a much more favorable view of Paul than of Graham and of McCain, who was the GOP’s presidential candidate in 2008. 

Paul, Marco Rubio of Florida and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are all well-liked by Republican voters.

Following the political battle over the March 1 sequester spending cuts, President Obama's positive ratings for leadership have fallen back to pre-election levels, and more voters than ever regard him as too confrontational. Obama’s job approval ratings are slipping, too, in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Voter perceptions of how the president is handling national security have dropped to their lowest level since October. Forty-six percent (46%) now give the president good or excellent marks for his handling of national security issues. Still, that’s better than the 41% who think he is doing a good or excellent job dealing with economic issues.

Forty-five percent (45%) view the president’s health care law favorably, while 48% share an unfavorable opinion of it. But voters still believe overwhelmingly that individuals should have the power to pick the kind of health insurance coverage they want. 

Voters are also more critical of Obama’s handling of issues related to taxes and remain unhappy with how he's dealing with spending. A plurality (46%) continues to question his handling of deficit reduction.  Voters are evenly divided on how he’s doing when it comes to issues related to economic fairness.

Most voters still believe the U.S. economy is fair to women, blacks and Hispanics but are now evenly divided when asked if it’s fair to lower-income Americans. However, they continue to think all four are treated better than the middle class.

That’s a sizable group that views the economy as unfair with 63% of working Americans now classifying themselves as middle class

Both the Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure daily confidence remain near their highest levels in several years. But most of those in both groups still think the country is in a recession.

Fewer working Americans (37%) than ever now see staying put at their current company as the best way to get ahead in their career, but most are still not searching for a new job. 

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans now are at least somewhat confident in the stability of the U.S. banking industry, but that includes just 10% who are Very Confident. 

Most remain worried about inflation, and an overwhelming number continue to say they are paying more for groceries compared to a year ago. Most believe they’ll be paying even more next year.

One-in-five adults (20%) now say they are paying higher interest rates than they were a year ago. That's up three points from last month and the highest number since September.

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In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-nine percent (29%) think the country is generally heading in the right direction. That's up a point from last week, down 14 points from last year's peak and up two from when Obama took office.

-- Democrats continue to lead Republicans on the Generic Congressional Ballot as they have every week since Election Day.

-- Most voters (55%) think a North Korean nuclear strike on the United States is unlikely, and less than half favor the use of U.S. military force to stop North Korea from using nuclear weapons. But they do support helping South Korea if its neighbor to the north attacks.

-- It’s been two years since an earthquake and tsunami triggered an explosion at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, and more than a third of Americans think radiation from that accident is likely to have done significant harm to the United States.  Still, most Americans believe nuclear power plants at home are safe.

-- Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans think it is a good idea to use cameras at traffic intersections to catch speeders and those who run traffic lights. But only 35% believe the use of speed cameras actually reduces the number of speeders.

-- Americans jumped forward an hour last weekend for Daylight Saving Time (DST), but fewer think this year that it's worth the hassle or even an effective way to save energy.

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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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