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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending September 27, 2013

One Democratic senator said Friday that national politics have reached a dangerous level not seen since the Civil War. Maybe it’s no surprise then that nearly one-out-of-five voters are talking secession.

Not from the union, necessarily, but from the state where they currently live.

Some residents in Maryland, California, Michigan and Colorado are looking to secede from their respective states, and 17% of Americans say they would vote for their section of their state to secede and form a new state

Only 12%, however, think it would be good for the country to add more states. Just 25% think Washington, D.C. should become a state. Slightly more (35%) favor statehood for Puerto Rico.

By the way, only 21% of Americans think states have the right to leave the United States and form an independent country. 

But many Americans definitely are not happy with the way things are going. Just 28% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction. That’s down from a recent high of 43% the week before Election Day.

Forty-two percent (42%) identify themselves as conservative on fiscal issues such as taxes, government spending and business regulation. Just 21% are liberal in this area, while 34% view themselves as moderates.

In reacting to the current economic problems, most voters (64%) continue to support cutting government spending.

Yet while 63% believe most Americans want the government to have less power and money, only 22% believe most politicians share that view. 

Just 15% believe U.S. taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment of $10,000 per student each year. But only 35% think student performance would improve if more money is spent on funding for schools and education programs

Newly created government health care exchanges are scheduled to begin accepting insurance applicants on Tuesday, but just 30% of voters now believe the nation’s health care system will get better under the new health care law. Despite concerns about a government shutdown, 51% favor having a partial shutdown until Democrats and Republicans agree on what spending for the health care law to cut.

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on 10 out of 15 major issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports, including the economy, national security and job creation. The two are tied when it comes to health care.

However, Democrats have jumped to a three-point lead on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot as Congress battles over funding for the health care law. 

Democrats trust the president a lot more than Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, while Republicans and unaffiliated voters have mixed feelings about all three branches of the federal government. The president’s overall job approval ratings remain at levels seen for most of his first term in office. 

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters think the Internal Revenue Service broke the law when it targeted conservative groups, and 58% think it’s likely that the president or his top aides were aware of the IRS’ rogue activity. But only 17% believe it is even somewhat likely that criminal charges will be brought against any government employees.

Voters continue to think Obama is more hostile to small business than he is to big business

Seventy percent (70%) think government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors

Fifty-three percent (53%) agree with the president’s decision to put stricter limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, even though 54% recognize that the new regulations will increase energy costs. 

Consumer and investor confidence have fallen back from the highs they hit earlier this year but still remain well above levels seen from 2009 through 2012. 

On Friday, the president had the first U.S. one-on-one talks with an Iranian president since 1979, but 66% of voters think it is unlikely that Iran will slow or stop its nuclear program in the next year in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

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In other surveys last week:

-- Democrat Terry McAuliffe still holds a six-point lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – 44% to 38% - in the race to be Virginia’s next governor. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis earns six percent (6%) of the vote. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, while 11% remain undecided.

-- Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans believe most of their fellow countrymen are basically honest, but 70% say the average American is less honest now than he or she was 25 years ago

-- Wonder why many Americans don’t trust the media? Eighty-four percent (84%) believe most major news organizations are more concerned with getting a story first than getting it right

-- Twenty-three percent (23%) say they use social media like Twitter and Facebook to follow major news events as they unfold. 

-- Americans correctly pegged “Breaking Bad” as the winner for best dramatic series at last Sunday night’s Emmy awards. 

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