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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending November 7, 2015

No matter what some elected officials tell them, Americans just aren’t buying the need for a lot more gun control.

It doesn’t help that 77% of voters believe most politicians raise gun issues just to get elected rather than to address real problems. Democrats are just as dubious of these politicians as Republicans are.

Voters are also more supportive these days of their constitutional right to own a gun.

By a 48% to 43% margin, voters see no need for stricter gun control. Far more (61%) believe the United States needs stricter enforcement of the gun control laws that are already on the books.

Support for the current federal system of background checks on gun purchasers remains high, even though voters question their effectiveness in reducing crime. 

Most voters have said in surveys since the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly three years ago that the best way to prevent incidents like this is to focus more on the mentally ill rather than on increased gun control.

A big problem for supporters of more gun control is that 62% of Americans don't trust the federal government to fairly enforce gun control laws.

Ironically, those in Congress who are most supportive of stricter gun control are less supportive of imprisoning illegal immigrants who commit major felonies in this country. Senate Democrats have blocked passage of "Kate's Law," but 56% of voters support legislation imposing mandatory prison terms on illegal immigrants convicted of major felonies who have been deported but have again entered the United States illegally. The law is named after Kate Steinle, the young woman murdered in San Francisco this summer by an illegal immigrant who had been deported several times and come back.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has taken a lot of criticism from Democrats and other GOP contenders over his candid remarks about the criminality of many illegal immigrants, but most voters agree with Trump that illegal immigration increases the level of serious crime.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters also believe the federal government should cut off funds to cities that provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, but Senate Democrats also have successfully prevented a cutoff of these funds.

Is it any wonder that 74% of Americans believe politicians’ unwillingness to reduce government spending is more to blame for the size of the federal deficit than taxpayers’ unwillingness to pay more in taxes? After all, Americans have been calling for across-the-board cuts in government spending for years.

Speaking of Trump, nearly two-out-of-three Republican voters think he is likely to be the GOP presidential nominee. The Republican presidential candidates debate again next Tuesday.

Is America going to war in another undeclared war?

Following President Obama’s decision to send a small number of special operations troops to Syria, voters strongly suspect that more troops will soon follow.

Most voters have called for building the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to west Texas in surveys since 2011, saying it will be good for the economy. Because the pipeline runs across the U.S.-Canada border, Obama gets to decide its fate, and after years of delays prompted by opposition from environmental groups, he announced Friday that he is not allowing the project to go ahead despite this voter support.

The president’s monthly job approval rating for October is unchanged from September. His daily job approval rating remains in the negative teens.

In other surveys last week:

-- It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – at least as far as consumer spending is concerned.

-- It looks like Americans have a case of the blues. Why so glum? We decided to find out what America thinks.

-- Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, but mixing the two into one vote may have been supporters’ biggest mistake.

-- The U.S. Department of Education on Monday criticized a suburban Chicago school district for not allowing transgender students access to girls' locker rooms and restrooms, but voters in Houston a day later repealed a law barring discrimination against transgender individuals in large part because of concerns that the law would allow men claiming to be women to use women's bathrooms. Just 21% of Americans favor allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex.

-- Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans think heroin abuse is a bigger problem in their community than it was five years ago.

-- Only 27% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

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