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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending November 22

Did someone miss the message on Election Day? Actions this week by President Obama and in the Senate suggest that we can look forward to another two years of hyper-intense partisanship.

The president on Thursday announced his long-anticipated plan – without congressional approval – that will allow nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in this country legally and apply for jobs. Republican leaders, scheduled to take control of the full Congress in January, had asked Obama to delay the decision, saying it would poison their future relations. Most voters oppose the amnesty plan and think the government is not aggressive enough in deporting illegal immigrants.

Most voters also have said in regular surveys for years that gaining control of the border to prevent future illegal immigration is more important than legalizing the status of the illegals living in the United States. But 56% think the current policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally. 

Even though voters across the partisan spectrum are clear that the economy remains their number one concern, a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was shot down by liberal Democrats in the Senate early this week. Voters continue to favor the oil pipeline’s construction from Canada to Texas and feel it will help the economy. Opponents claim it will contribute to global warming. 

Incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu was desperately pushing passage of the bill in hopes that it would help her bid for reelection in Louisiana. But our surveying indicates it wouldn’t have made much of a difference: Landrieu’s Republican challenger Bill Cassidy looks comfortably on his way to joining the new GOP Senate majority. Louisiana voters will decide on December 6.

Senate Republicans in turn this week stopped a legislative effort to put the brakes on National Security Agency domestic spying. Voters still don’t approve of the NSA’s activities, but at a time when more than ever see a terrorist attack as the biggest threat to the nation, 57% believe protecting the country from a possible terrorist attack is more important than protecting the privacy of most Americans.

Major technology companies like Google, Apple and Facebook were pushing for the restrictions, but voters tend to think they spy on individuals more than the government does.

Voters are now evenly divided when it comes to Obamacare’s requirement that every American buy or otherwise obtain health insurance. Repeal of the unpopular health care law appears unlikely, but congressional Republicans are expected to make major changes in it next year if they can. 

The president also has come out strongly for so-called “net neutrality” rules that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet like TV and radio. But Americans have a message for the government: Leave my Internet alone.

For the second time this year, the number of voters who rate Obama’s leadership positively has reached a three-year low of 38%. But the president’s daily job approval ratings have improved slightly since the election.

Opinions of the current Congress haven’t changed much. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are Congress’ two least-liked leaders, but John Boehner’s close behind them. Republicans and Democrats are tied on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

The president began the year with a State of the Union address that focused on the issue of economic fairness. While voters rate policies that encourage economic fairness and economic growth as both important, they continue to feel that economic growth is the more important of the two.

The housing market remains a rare bright spot. Forty percent (40%) of homeowners now expect their home’s value to increase in the next year. That’s the highest level of optimism since the housing bubble burst several years ago.

More homeowners than ever think that their home's worth more than when they bought it. Thirty-seven percent (37%) think now is a good time for someone in their area to be selling a home. Two years ago, only 16% felt that way. 

Consumer confidence continues to muddle along, but investors are more upbeat these days.

Americans are in a more generous mood this holiday season, but they’re off to a slower start when it comes to shopping.

In other surveys last week:

--- Americans don’t expect the white police officer who killed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri to be charged with murder and oppose the U.S. Justice Department trying to prosecute him after that.

- For the third consecutive week, 27% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

-- Just over half of Americans remain confident in the nation’s banks, well below the level of confidence measured before the 2008 financial meltdown.

-- While most Americans say their interest rates haven’t changed over the past year, roughly half still expect them to go up over the next 12 months.

-- Most adults continue to be concerned about inflation but show slightly more confidence in the Federal Reserve to keep inflation under control and interest rates down

-- Eighty percent (80%) think Christmas is over-commercialized.

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