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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- Week Ending November 29, 2014

 Did Thanksgiving come just in time? After outrage over the expected yet controversial grand jury decision in Ferguson and contention over the president’s executive action on immigration, perhaps Americans needed a day to step back and reflect.

On Monday, the St. Louis County Grand Jury decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown back in August. Prior to the decision, most Americans didn’t expect Wilson to be charged with murder, and half said the U.S. Justice Department should not try to charge him for federal crimes related to the Brown shooting.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Americans expected violent protests if Wilson is not charged with murder, but only 28% believed them to be the result of legitimate outrage over the case.  Fifty percent (50%) thought it would be mostly criminals taking advantage of the situation. 

Fifty percent (50%) of voters oppose the president’s new plan that will allow nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in this country legally and apply for jobs, while 40% are in favor of it. But that’s slightly less opposition than voters expressed prior to the announcement. Half also think the plan will be bad for the economy, and a majority believes the new plan will attract more illegal immigrants.

Americans put a great deal of importance on being a U.S. citizen, but nearly one-in-three think it’s too easy to become one.

Open enrollment for 2015 started earlier this month for insurance under the new national health care law, but 35% now say Obamacare has hurt them personally. That’s the highest finding in over a year.

But it’s not just the president who is taking heat. Voters continue to give Congress dismal reviews and the majority still believes members get reelected because the system is rigged.

Two weeks after they won full control of Congress, Republicans now lead Democrats by four points on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

In other news this week, just 28% of voters favor President Obama’s newly disclosed plan to expand the U.S. military’s fighting role against the Taliban in Afghanistan after this year. Thirty percent (30%) now believe it is possible for the United States to win the war in Afghanistan, but that’s up from 23% earlier this year.

Of course, the week ended with Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and Americans put much more importance on the former than the latter. An overwhelming majority of Americans have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and 49% consider it one of the nation’s most important holidays. Forty-four percent (44%) planned to have Thanksgiving dinner at home, while nearly as many (42%) visited the home of a relative.

One-in-four Americans planned to be out of town this Thanksgiving weekend.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of Americans said they were at least somewhat likely to go shopping yesterday to take advantage of Black Friday sales deals. But only nine percent (9%)  said they are more likely to shop at a store that opens on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on Black Friday deals. Forty-four percent (44%) say they are less likely to shop at a store that is open on Thanksgiving. Find out more about What America Thinks about Black Friday.

Forty-three percent (43%) of American Credit Card Holders plan to pay for most of their holiday gifts this year with a credit card. But 51% do not intend to pay that way.

Speaking of plastic, most Americans think they have their own credit card use under control but say most other people need to cut back on how much they use their cards. They admit, however, that credit cards tempt people to buy things that can't afford.

In other surveys last week:

- Hillary Clinton remains the heavy favorite for her party’s presidential nomination in 2016, but the Republican race is still in flux less than two years before the election.

- Though nearly half of Americans think it’s likely the recent sexual assault allegations against comedian Bill Cosby are true, they still think television networks should hold off on pulling his shows until he is officially charged with a crime.

- Just 36% of Americans think the Founding Fathers would consider the United States a success. But a plurality (46%) believes the Founders - a group that generally includes George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, among others - would view the nation as a failure instead.

- Just 26% think the United States is heading in the right direction.

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