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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending March 7, 2015

If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls, and this week we really showed it.

The week began with numerous reports out of the just-ended Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where most of the top Republican presidential hopefuls courted the crowd. We were quick to report findings that show Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has surged to the front of the GOP pack and now gives likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a run for her money

Tuesday, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out strongly against the deal the Obama administration is negotiating with Iran to curb the latter’s nuclear development program.

The day before, we reported that voters were more supportive than they had been earlier of Netanyahu addressing Congress despite strong protests from the White House. Most also considered it important whether their congressional representative was attending.

Later in the week, we found that Netanyahu is winning the argument with voters so far over the deal President Obama is trying to make with Iran.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that would eliminate the taxpayer-funded subsidies for many of those who have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare. We reported that day that nearly half of voters think it’s a good idea to hold up the health care law until court cases like this are resolved.

Voters still tend to share an unfavorable opinion of the health care law and say it has hurt more than helped them. They’re also less enthusiastic this month about fixing the law rather than repealing it.

Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department released a report charging the Ferguson, Missouri police department with a systematic pattern of racial discrimination but stopped short of charging police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.

But we released findings that same day showing that 56% of voters think the Justice Department is more concerned with politics than with making sure justice is done when it decides to investigate a local crime like the Brown shooting independent of the local police.  

On Friday, the federal government released its monthly jobs report, highlighting the creation of nearly 300,000 new jobs and a decrease in the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent.

Of course, our readers already knew that was coming because the Rasmussen Employment Index which measures worker confidence rose a point in February to tie the highest level measured in six years. Generally speaking, an increase in the Employment Index suggests the upcoming government report on job creation will be stronger than the prior month’s report. 

The president still doesn’t seem to be getting much credit for this improved jobs picture, though. His daily job approval ratings appear to be returning to levels seen before Election Day. 

Obama earned a monthly job approval of 48% in February. That’s down a point from January and ties his approval rating for December. The 49% approval he earned in January tied his high for all of 2014.

The president in this year’s State of the Union address proposed $320 billion in tax increases on the wealthiest Americans including raising capital gains and inheritance taxes in an effort to pay for initiatives he says will benefit lower- and middle-class taxpayers. But most voters suspect this will lead to more taxes on the middle class as well.

Americans already feel more strongly than ever that the middle class pays a larger share of their income in taxes than the wealthy do.

They also strongly distrust the way the federal government spends their tax dollars.

But then just 30% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

In other surveys last week:

-- It’s time for the clocks to “spring ahead” this weekend, but many Americans still don’t see the point.

-- We frequently ask Americans what they think about different things around the world and in their own country, but we don’t always ask how they feel about the country itself. So we decided to find out what America thinks about America

-- Democrats and Republicans run neck-and-neck on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

-- Voters still give positive marks to their local air and water but think the environment as a whole is getting worse.

-- As stories of teen suicide continue to appear in the news, Americans are taking it seriously and feel strongly about who should be responsible for preventing such tragedies. 

-- Despite a recent analysis that suggests Americans are sacrificing good coffee for cost and convenience, most coffee drinkers claim that quality means the most to them. Though more Americans admit they have trouble resisting sweets, fewer say they are overweight.

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Remember, if it's in the news, it's in our polls.

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