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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending May 2, 2015

Hillary Clinton finally has an official opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Longtime Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-proclaimed socialist, is jumping into the race. Sanders earned just seven percent (7%) support among Likely Democratic Voters when we asked in early March, but that was before the politicking began. We’ll test Sanders with voters nationwide early next week.

Just over two weeks ago, an overwhelming 91% of Democrats said Clinton will be their party’s nominee next year. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of all voters think she’ll be elected president.

But as Obama administration officials wrestle with the news media and congressional investigators over releasing e-mail from her days as secretary of State, voters are growing more suspicious that Clinton has something to hide.

Over half of voters now don’t trust Clinton, but even more think she used her position as secretary of State to benefit some of those who gave money to her Clinton Foundation.

Clinton this week joined the chorus of Democrats and Republicans calling for ways to reduce the number of Americans in prison, and voters still tend to be cautiously supportive of that overall goal.

Another of Clinton’s intraparty rivals, Martin O’Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, may have had his chances dinged by the recent rioting in that city. Americans view the rioting in Baltimore as criminal behavior, not legitimate protest over a black suspect’s death in police custody.

The area hardest hit by the rioting has exceptionally high unemployment, and new data suggests that the recent flood of illegal immigrants into the country is making it even tougher for inner city blacks to get jobs.

Voters strongly suspect that the federal government's failure to stop a flood of young illegal immigrants from entering the country last year will lead to more of the same in the warm months ahead.

Most voters still consider America a fair and decent place to live and feel strongly that newcomers to this country should adopt our language and culture.

While voters continue to have a favorable opinion of those who move to this country to work hard, support their family and pursue the American Dream, barely half now believe most immigrants are like that.

Meanwhile, as Congress debates giving President Obama greater power to negotiate trade deals with other countries, Americans remain conflicted about free trade. Most think the government doesn’t do enough to protect U.S. businesses, but at the same time they think those businesses will do better against foreign competitors with a wide-open market.

Most voters still don’t like Obamacare and want more freedom in their health insurance choices than the new national health care law currently gives them.

Despite the president’s recent acknowledgement that a U.S. drone attack on an al-Qaeda camp killed two hostages, including an American, voters remain strongly supportive of using the armed unmanned aircraft. Most believe the United States should use drones even more.

Voter concern about national security has been steadily rising over the past couple years, with the number who believe terrorists are winning the War on Terror continuing to grow.

Like his daily job approval ratings, voter reviews of the president’s handling of national security and the economy have generally changed very little during his years in the White House. The president's full-month approval rating dropped a point in April.

The top congressional leaders of both political parties aren’t too popular with voters either.

Republicans hold a two-point lead on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

In other surveys last week:

--- The number of voters who think the country is heading in the right direction has fallen to its lowest level since mid-December.

-- Younger voters have long been doubtful about receiving their Social Security benefits. So how do they feel about the federal retirement program these days?

-- Voters also continue to doubt they’ll receive all their promised Medicare benefits, but they're less willing to raise the eligibility age to keep the program afloat.

-- One-in-five Americans are responding to the devastating earthquake in Nepal with money from their pocket, and most think the spread of social media helps in situations like this.

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