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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending September 3, 2016

Many may feel they’ve already endured enough of the presidential campaign. But the race begins in earnest on Tuesday with the end of the Labor Day weekend, and the candidates are dead even.

Hillary Clinton’s post-convention lead has disappeared, and she now trails Donald Trump by a statistically insignificant one percentage point in our latest weekly White House Watch survey. Still, it’s the first time the Republican nominee has been ahead since mid-July.

Some have suggested that Trump has hidden support among voters who are unwilling to say publicly where they stand because they’re fearful of criticism. We won’t know for sure until Election Day, but Republicans are clearly more reluctant than Democrats this year to say how they are going to vote.  

Trump scored the political coup of the week with his surprise meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City. Both candidates had been invited, but Trump was the first to respond. While there, he reiterated his vow to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration. As recently as early April, 42% of voters – and 65% of Republicans – still favored building such a wall.

Americans are feeling friendlier toward Mexico these days but still think it should offset the cost to the United States of the illegal immigrants it’s sending our way.

When it comes to immigration reform, 92% of voters who support Trump rate gaining control of the border as more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States. Among voters who favor Hillary Clinton, 79% think legalizing those already here is the priority.

Most voters believe the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally.  

Ninety-six percent (96%) of Trump voters are angry at the current policies of the federal government.  But only 36% of Clinton supporters share that anger.

Thirty-six percent (36%) of all voters believe the government rarely or never does the right thing, the highest level of criticism in three years.  

Trump says he would put an end to “nation building," a term that in recent years has been used to describe stepped-up efforts to establish democracies in the Middle East through use of the U.S. military and U.S. taxpayer dollars. Few voters think the government's nation-building efforts have been a success, and most agree that they should be ended.  

Voters continue to believe the U.S. military should only be used when America’s national security is at stake and say it’s being overused right now.  

 They’ve also said for years that America should not be the world’s policeman, but leaders in both major political parties, including the last two presidents, think it’s important for the United States to lend a hand to other nations in need. Do Americans believe it’s time for the United States to mind its own business?  

While most voters say U.S. foreign policy should focus on what's best for America, they think President Obama is more interested in what's best for the world. Obama continues to earn better than average daily job approval ratings in the final months of his presidency.  

But are either presidential candidate’s positions really being heard? Most voters believe the media, not the candidates, are setting the agenda this presidential election cycle. With lots of news at our fingertips, you’d think we would be more informed than ever. Are our fellow Americans paying attention to the wrong stuff?  

It doesn’t help that the majority of voters think both of the major presidential candidates are liars and give them equally low marks as potential used car salesmen. 

Following reports that a foreign country has hacked election data in at least two states, supporters of voter ID laws say this emphasizes the need for better identification of potential voters. Most voters have long said that their fellow Americans need to prove their identity before voting and don’t believe that such a requirement is discriminatory. 

A newly hacked internal Democratic Party memo warns candidates that saying “all lives matter” or mentioning “black on black crime” is “the worst response” when talking to Black Lives Matter activists. Just 26% of voters think the Black Lives Matter movement supports reforms to ensure all Americans are treated fairly under the law.  

In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty-one percent (31%) of voters think the country is heading in the right direction. 

-- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick grabbed headlines when he refused to stand for "The Star Spangled Banner" before last week’s game, citing racial and police brutality issues in America as the reason. He’s yet to receive any punishment from the team or the NFL, and Americans aren’t sure he should.

-- Regardless of their views on Kaepernick, 70% of Americans think school children should be required to honor the U.S. flag every morning at school.

-- The National Football League’s regular season officially kicks off a week from tonight in Denver, and most Americans say they’ll tune in to at least some of the games this season. Fewer adults have been catching the preseason games.

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