What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending March 19, 2016
While Democrats move closer to unifying behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, the leadership of the Republican Party continues to struggle with the specter of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
Support for all three of the remaining Republican candidates has grown with the narrowing of the field, but Trump still holds a double-digit lead over both his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.
Following his latest round of primary wins on Tuesday, more Republicans than ever believe Trump will be their party’s presidential nominee this fall.
Belief in Trump’s eventual nomination now matches the latest findings in Rasmussen Reports’ monthly Hillary Meter: 60% of Democrats say Hillary Clinton is Very Likely to be their nominee, also a new high.
Democrats are already preparing for a Trump nomination because they want to win. The GOP elites are still fighting the voters in their own party seemingly without a clue what to do next, while winning appears to be the furthest thing from their minds.
The danger for Republicans is that 36% of the party’s voters say they are likely to vote for Trump if he runs as a third-party presidential candidate, with 24% who say they are Very Likely to do so.
Trump has been critical of so-called “political correctness” for restraining free speech. Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans now believe there is less freedom of speech in America today.
Voters strongly believe candidates should tell it like it is, but most expect an increase in political violence this year, thanks in large part to Trump’s unvarnished populist message.
Trump has responded to critics of his abrasive campaign rhetoric by saying he would “gladly accept the mantle of anger” because the government is being run by “incompetent people.” Two-out-of-three voters (67%) are angry at the current policies of the federal government, and even more (84%) are angry at Congress.
Trump also boasts that he is largely self-funding his campaign because he thinks big contributors have too much influence over elected officials. Most voters agree that presidential candidates are more concerned with what their big donors think than with the concerns of the voters.
Half of voters consider their local government corrupt, but that’s nothing compared to what they think about their state government and the feds.
Sixty-six percent (66%) believe the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests.
The president this week nominated federal appellate court Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He described Garland as “a centrist,” but conservatives quickly disagreed, with the National Rifle Association calling him “the most anti-gun nominee in recent history.”
Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters rate their constitutional right to own a gun as important, with 54% who say it is Very Important. Just one-in-three Americans (32%) now think stricter gun control laws will decrease violent crime.
Republican congressional leaders have told the president that they will not consider any Supreme Court nomination he makes. Nearly half (48%) of Republicans say they’d be more likely to vote for a senator who refuses to consider an Obama nominee, while slightly more Democrats (50%) say they’d be less likely to vote for that candidate.
Voters in surveys for years have been more likely to describe the U.S. Supreme Court as too liberal rather than as too conservative. Any newcomer nominated by the president isn't likely to change that overall perception.
Obama continues to enjoy some of his best daily approval ratings in over a year.
Voters believe more strongly these days that the president of the United States is the leader of the world community and that the level of power he has is appropriate.
But just 33% believe the United States will still be the most powerful nation in the world by the end of the 21st century.
In other surveys last week:
-- Only 27% of voters think the country is now heading in the right direction.
-- Americans overwhelmingly believe they know the issues when they go to the polls but agree nearly as strongly that most others are not informed voters.
-- Are voters jumping on the #hashtag politics bandwagon?
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