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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending March 5, 2016

So far the Republicans’ organized punch-out of Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be working, but we won’t know for sure until 10 days from now when GOP voters in Florida and Ohio go to the polls.

Despite two hard-hitting debates and a strong denunciation of Trump by Mitt Romney, the last Republican presidential candidate, voters are even more convinced that the billionaire businessman will be this year’s GOP nominee.

Right now, that’s not good news for Republicans. Democrat Hillary Clinton has moved to a five-point lead over Trump in a hypothetical presidential matchup. The two were tied in late December.

Still, Democrats will find it a lot harder to pigeonhole Trump as the typical social conservative Republican, and that, along with unhappiness with Clinton, may make this race a lot more competitive than many originally predicted.

More Democrats than ever now support Clinton’s bid for their party’s presidential nomination following her big win in the South Carolina primary. 

This week’s bad news for Clinton is that the U.S. Justice Department reportedly has granted immunity from prosecution to a former State Department employee who worked on her private e-mail server. Most voters still believe it’s likely Clinton broke the law by sending and receiving classified information through the server while she was secretary of State.

Trump and Clinton may be the presidential front-runners in their respective parties, but right now there are more voters who say they will vote against them than will vote for them.

One-in-five Republican (19%) and unaffiliated voters (20%) say they’ve switched their support to another candidate as a result of the presidential debates, compared to just 11% of Democrats. 

All four candidates at Thursday night’s GOP debate swore to support the party’s eventual nominee. Over a third (36%) of GOP voters said last summer that they are likely to vote for Trump if he’s a third-party candidate, and that was before the surge in support Trump has experienced in recent months.

But win or lose, Trump is doing the GOP a favor by making it potentially a less ideological party and one that is more attractive to a wider spectrum of voters.

Senate Republican leaders made it clear to President Obama this week that they will not consider any nomination he makes to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Nearly half (48%) of Republicans say they’d be more likely to vote for a senator who refuses to consider an Obama nominee, but slightly more Democrats (50%) say they’d be less likely to vote for that candidate.

In the thick of primary season, most voters still think their fellow Americans need to prove their identity before voting and don’t believe photo ID laws discriminate against some voters.

Six years after its passage by Congress, Obama's national health care law remains unpopular with a majority of voters who still believe it will lead to higher costs and lower the quality of care.

Reducing costs remains voters' top health care priority, and they continue to believe that keeping government out of the health care market is the best way to achieve that goal.

Most Americans think the public outcry over the ongoing water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, by prominent officials like Clinton and the president is more about politics than a solution to the problem.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Our latest Consumer Spending Monitor suggests that consumers have some spring home improvement projects in mind.

-- Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters approved of Obama’s job performance in February, up one point from January and matching the highest finding in all of last year.

-- The president’s daily job approval rating rose to -5 earlier this week, the highest it’s been in nearly three years.

-- Americans don't consider their fellow countrymen an overly honest group, but they think most play fair when it comes to their taxes. They’re also less worried this year about being audited by the IRS

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