From Rasmussen Reports…
What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Talk about low expectations.
Rasmussen Reports gave voters nationwide a short list of issues that Congress will consider in the next couple of years, including immigration, government spending and taxes, and asked whether they were optimistic or pessimistic about what the legislators will accomplish in these areas. The answers reflect even deeper pessimism among voters than they expressed after the 2006 midterm elections.
Just 26% of voters now think the country is heading in the right direction. This finding continues to fall since Election Day and is the lowest reading since mid-March, largely because Democrats are down but sentiments among Republicans and unaffiliated voters haven’t moved.
A plurality (47%) of voters believes America’s best days have come and gone, a number that has remained fairly constant since the beginning of the year.
Every night, Rasmussen Reports asks voters what issues are most important to them when voting, and economic issues remain at the top of the list, as they have for the past two years. But economically, there’s little good news to report this week.
Homeowners continue to have little short-term confidence in the U.S. housing market, although they’re much more confident about the picture five years down the road. The findings on both questions remain in the ballpark of where they’ve been for well over a year.
Thirty percent (30%) of homeowners say the value of their home is less than what they still own on their mortgage. That's the lowest level measured since August but consistent with findings since April 2009.
Belief that a home is a good buy for a family remains at an 18-month low.
Confidence as measured in the Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes was down slightly at week’s end, and both still remain well below where they were in 2008.
Americans strongly prefer spending cuts to tax increases, but a plurality (40%) thinks that President Obama’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission is more likely to propose tax hikes than cuts in spending to reduce the budget deficit. Fifty-nine percent (59%) think Congress is likely to raise taxes if the commission recommends it, but only 39% believe the legislators are likely to follow through on any spending cuts that are proposed.
Most Americans also feel they - and not Congress - should have the final say on whether the deficit commission's proposals become law.
While the deficit reduction commission is publicly considering a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to tackle the country’s growing deficit, 51% of voters think it’s possible to balance the budget without raising taxes. That’s up 14 points from February. Just 33% disagree.
Speaking of the threat of tax increases, most voters continue to support the extension of the Bush tax cuts that are scheduled to expire December 31. Congress is haggling over whether to extend the cuts to all Americans or just to those who earn less than $200,000 a year. Fifty percent (50%) of voters say they should be extended for all, while 44% prefer extending them to everyone but the wealthy.
Congress views the recent elections as a mandate to cut government spending, and first on the list is a ban on allowing legislators to steer money to their favorite home projects. But voters aren’t quite as gung-ho about cutting so-called earmarks. Forty-eight percent (48%) favor a ban that prohibits all members of Congress from steering taxpayer money to pet projects in their home districts, but 36% are opposed to such a ban.
Still, a sizable majority of voters like a candidate who works to cut federal spending over one who tries to get a fair amount of it for his home district. Most also think a member of Congress who tries to maximize federal spending for his district is motivated more by how it will help his reelection than what is best for his constituents.
A majority of voters continues to support repeal of the national health care plan, as it has been since the measure was passed in March, and most believe the law will be bad for the country overall.
When it comes to what they buy, 79% of Americans say it is important to them that the product is made in America. [By the way, that’s our FedEx Fact of the Week.]
Yet despite General Motors’ major public stock offering this past week, that made-in-America feeling is not quite as strong when it comes to cars. Forty-one percent (41%) say they look for an American-built car first when shopping for automobiles, but slightly more (44%) say they look for the best possible deal regardless of where the car’s manufactured.
As the controversy over new airport body scanners escalates, voters feel more strongly than ever that the U.S. legal system is more protective of individual freedoms than it is of the nation's overall security.
Obama’s job approval index rating continues to hover in the teens this week in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
In other surveys last week:
-- Most Americans don’t think the federal Food and Drug Administration’s new graphic cigarette warning labels will decrease the number of smokers in the United States. However, they do think that raising the price of cigarettes would have an impact.
-- A growing number of states and localities have banned smoking in public places, but there continues to be little public support for outlawing tobacco smoking entirely.
-- Though overall voter ratings for the U.S. Supreme Court have shifted little from last month, the percentage that says the high court is doing a poor job is at its highest level since August 2007.
-- Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters think the Court is too liberal, while 31% say it’s about right ideologically. Only 23% say the court is too conservative.
-- Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters say renewable energy is a better long-term investment than fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. This is the highest level of support for renewable energy since August, though voters have consistently favored it over fossil fuels since Rasmussen Reports began surveying this question in late January.
-- As George W. Bush tours the country promoting his new memoir, “Decision Points,” voters are a bit less critical of the former president than they’ve been in previous years.
-- A third Bush in the White House? Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has ruled out a presidential bid in 2012 but isn’t closing the door on running after that. But only one-third (35%) of voters believe it’s at least somewhat likely that Jeb Bush will run for president one day.
For an overview of the past election season, you might check out Scott Rasmussen’s Wall Street Journal column from the day before the election or his Washington Examiner column shortly after the results came in. Rasmussen noted that there weren't a whole lot of surprises on Election Night. Why? “Because the public polling industry performed well and gave everybody a good idea of what to expect.”
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Remember, if it's in the news, it's in our polls.