From Rasmussen Reports…
What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Out with the old, in with the new. That’s what many shoppers are likely to be thinking this time of year, and what many voters may have in mind as well.
Most voters continue to give the current Congress poor marks in its closing days, and they still don't believe the national legislature has passed anything to significantly improve life in America. Voters are not expecting much from the incoming Congress either. Only 33% think it’s even somewhat likely that Congress will cut government spending significantly over the next year. GOP voters are among the most doubtful.
Most voters, in fact, still expect government spending to increase during the Obama years.
In the shorter-term, most voters are optimistic that Congress will extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans. To ensure passage of those tax cuts, some Republicans are reportedly signing on to Democrats’ hopes to continue funding unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks. Nearly half (49%) of American adults think providing unemployment benefits for that long tends to increase unemployment.
While Democrats point to the new national health care law as a landmark achievement, 58% of voters continue to favor repeal of that measure, and 47% believe repeal is at least somewhat likely with a new Congress coming to town.
Spending cuts and tax increases were front and center this week among the proposals recommended by President Obama’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission. While a majority of the commission’s members failed to agree on a set plan for deficit reduction, the new Congress is still expected to consider many of the proposals suggested by the group in the months ahead.
Americans are receptive to a proposal to increase the level of income taxable for Social Security, but most don’t like the idea of raising the retirement age as part of a plan to make Social Security financially solvent in the long term.
The commission also looked at ways to overhaul one of the most sacred of sacred cows – the income tax deduction on interest paid on home mortgages. Americans are narrowly divided when asked about possible ways to limit that deduction.
The president on Monday proposed a freeze on the salaries of federal employees for the next two years as an effort to help rein in the growing federal budget deficit. Two-thirds of voters think would like to see a 10% reduction in the federal payroll.
Military spending is on the cutting block, too, as a deficit reduction measure. Most voters correctly recognize that the United States spends more on the military and national security than any other nation in the world. Nearly half believe America spends more on national defense than it does on Social Security, but the reality is that the expenditures are about the same.
Voters continue to blame the George W. Bush administration more than President Obama's policies for the country's ongoing economic problems. Yet despite their concerns about the economy, most voters still worry that the federal government will do too much in trying to turn things around.
Several economic indicators suggest that pessimism about the economy is declining, but there’s still a long way to go.
The Rasmussen Consumer Index for the full month of November shows the highest level of economic confidence in more than two-and-a-half years. However, most adults still believe the country is in a recession and overall levels of confidence remain lower than they were in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Nearly half of all Americans have begun their holiday shopping in the wake of Black Friday, but most are still planning to spend less than a year ago. Still, the spending expectations are less bleak than last year at this time. Scott Rasmussen explains what the shopping numbers have told us so far.
One of the constants in Rasmussen Consumer Index tracking is that women are more skeptical about the economy than men. Some might say that women are more pessimistic, while others might say more realistic.
The Rasmussen Employment Index, which measures worker confidence in the employment market reached its highest level since September 2008 - for the third straight month. Twenty-one percent (21%) say their firms are hiring and 21% report lay-offs.
Economic confidence among the nation's small business owners also rose for the third straight month and is now nearly 11 points higher than a year ago, according to the Discover (R) Small Business Watch (SM). Again, however, it’s reduced pessimism rather than renewed optimism driving the numbers. Forty-three percent (43%) of small business owners have experienced cash flow difficulties. That’s down from 53% in August.
Politically, November marked another significant finding. Thirty-six percent (36%) of American Adults identified themselves as Republicans; 34.7% considered themselves Democrats, and 29.3% were not affiliated with either major party. That’s the largest number of Republicans since February 2005 and the first time ever that Rasmussen Reports polling has found more people identifying as Republicans than Democrats. If prior history is any guide, these gains may start to fade when the GOP actually takes over the House of Representatives.
Republicans now hold a six-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot. The GOP has led on the ballot since June of last year.
The president’s overall job approval ratings fell a point for the full month of November. Daily updates are measured by the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
Voters are strongly concerned about the impact of the latest dump of sensitive and secret U.S. data on the Internet by the WikiLeaks organization and think the U.S. government needs to do a better job protecting that kind of information.
Most voters believe public release of U.S. secret and confidential documents hurts national security, and they consider the leaking of such information to be an act of treason.