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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending May 30, 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Several of the biggest issues facing the nation are in court or on their way there, with many voters hoping judges will do what their elected representatives won’t do.

President Obama’s plan to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation ran into more legal trouble this week when a federal appeals court refused to let it move forward. That’s okay with voters who’ve opposed the president’s executive action from the start. The next stop is likely to be the U.S. Supreme Court.

You might be surprised, however, how many voters now think illegal immigrants should be allowed to vote.

Can Obama change Obamacare without Congress’ okay? That’s the question at the heart of a federal court hearing this past week on a lawsuit filed by the House of Representatives. It’s the first ever lawsuit by the full House against a sitting president.

Voters still tend to think the new national health care law isn't working and expect things to get even worse.

Most voters want to make major changes in the health care law or dump it completely. But they strongly believe that that’s something the president and Congress should do together.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the next month on a lawsuit challenging the subsidies provided for some Americans to purchase health insurance under the health care law. It will be a serious setback for the law if the court upholds the challenge. Voters continue to believe the Supreme Court is politically biased.

The U.S. Senate is returning for a highly unusual special Sunday session to decide whether to extend the controversial Patriot Act, including its provisions allowing the National Security Agency to spy on millions of innocent Americans. How important do voters consider their privacy rights when national security is at stake?

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the NSA’s mass collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal, but voters are actually now more supportive of the agency’s actions.

Perhaps in part, that’s because just 34% think the United States is safer today than it was before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the lowest level of confidence in five years.

Voters are a little more willing to spend money on national security these days, but generally speaking, they prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a more active one with more services and higher taxes.

But 41% say their state government is now too big. Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters in states run mostly by Democrats feel that way. 

Most voters also say their state’s budget picture hasn't improved, even though they're much more likely to be paying higher rather than lower state taxes these days.

But then again how much do voters really know? They complain that they don’t have enough say over who gets elected to lead them.

But just 11% think most Americans are informed voters.

Voters still turn to TV over the Internet when it comes to political news, but the gap is narrowing. Most voters, however, doubt the accuracy of political news coverage and think most reporters will slant their coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Likely U.S. Voters now think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- The president’s daily job approval ratings remain in the mid- to high negative teens.

-- Higher education has long been a booming business in the United States, but with record student debt and a difficult jobs picture, many are wondering if they are getting their money's worth from college these days.

-- Most Americans consider Memorial Day an important U.S. holiday. Forty-one percent (41%) say they have a close friend or relative who gave their life while serving in the U.S. military.

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