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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Money did the talking in a lot of our surveys this past week.

Just days after the government's announcement that unemployment has risen to 9.1%, short- and long-term confidence in the U.S. economy are at the lowest levels of the Obama presidency. Only 31% of American Adults now say the economy will be stronger in one year, the most pessimistic assessment since January 2009. Looking out five years, only 46% expect the economy to be stronger. That's unchanged from March, which marked the lowest level of optimism in over two years of surveying.

With the high school and college graduation season coming to a close, 89% of Americans say it will be at least somewhat difficult for recent graduates to find a job in the current economy. That includes 56% who say it will be Very Difficult.

One-out-of-three Americans think it's good for the U.S. economy if the government puts more people on the payroll, but most adults still don't see government as the solution to long-term unemployment

In fact, voters remain narrowly divided over how much the government should get involved in trying to turn around the economy. Forty-seven percent (47%) are worried more that the federal government will do too much rather than not enough in reacting to the nation's economic problems. Forty-one percent (41%) are more concerned that the federal government will not do enough.

Most Americans also still believe government workers work less and make more money than those employed by private companies. Yet while the majority thinks government workers enjoy more job security, too, they're not as sure of that as they were a year ago.  

Americans are less convinced than they have been at any time since President Obama took office that it's still possible for anyone in this country to work their way out of being poor. Just 44% of Adults believe it is possible for anyone to work their way out of poverty. That compares to 56% in March 2009 just a few weeks after the president's inauguration.

The Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes, which measure daily confidence in both groups, were down this week and remain short of findings at the beginning of the year. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Americans believe that the United States is still in a recession.

On the home front, the vast majority of adults remain concerned about inflation. Eighty-eight percent (88%) report paying more for groceries now than they were a year ago. Three-out-of-four (75%) expect to be paying more for groceries in a year's time.

With voters consistently listing the economy as their top voting issue, it's perhaps not surprising then that a generic Republican candidate edged Obama 45% to 42% among Likely U.S. Voters in a hypothetical 2012 election matchup again this past week. Rasmussen Reports will provide new data on this generic matchup each week until the field of prospective Republican nominees narrows to a few serious contenders.

Most voters agree that Obama is qualified to be president. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the only Republican 2012 hopeful that a sizable number of voters considers qualified to serve in the White House. 

Still, most voters also believe the president is more liberal than they are. Just 24% say their political views are about the same as Obama's.

For the first time, however, voters feel the agenda of congressional Republicans is nearly as extreme as that of Democrats in Congress. Yet while she's much less often in the news these days, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains Congress' most disliked leader. 

As they have since June 2009, Republicans continue to lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot. For the week ending June 5, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters said they would vote for their district's Republican congressional candidate, while 37% would choose the Democrat instead.

But a congressional race with an official Tea Party candidate in the running appears to be better news for Democrats. In a three-way congressional contest with a Tea Party candidate on the ballot, the Democrat picks up 40% of the vote. The Republican earns 21% support, while nearly as many (18%) favor the Tea Party candidate. Twenty-one percent (21%), however, remain undecided.

At week's end, Obama's overall job approval ratings appeared to be worsening slightly in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. His numbers have shown a modest improvement since the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in early May.

Voter confidence in U.S. efforts in the War on Terror remain at record recent levels. Fifty percent (50%) think the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror. Last month, after the killing of bin Laden, confidence in the War on Terror jumped 23 points from a four-year low of 32% in April to 55%, the highest level since January 2009.

Even with troop withdrawals from Afghanistan scheduled to begin next month, though, the recent burst of optimism about the war there appears to be over. Views of the situation in Iraq also were slightly more optimistic last month but have now returned to the levels seen since last fall.

In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction. Sixty-four percent (64%) think the country is heading down the wrong track.

-- Americans continue to have mixed feelings about the stability of the U.S. banking system. Forty-eight percent (48%) are at least somewhat confident in the stability of the banking system today, with 11% who are Very Confident. Confidence remains well below the high of 68% in July 2008.

-- Most voters continue to favor repeal of the national health care law passed last year and believe the legislation will increase the federal deficit. 

-- Working Americans are more skeptical than ever that men and women are equally paid for comparable work, but there remains a wide difference of opinion between the sexes on the question. 

-- Voters remain more conservative when it comes to money than they are on social policy, but 29% still say they are conservative in both areas. Just 11% claim to be both fiscal and social liberals. These findings have changed little in surveys back to November 2007.

-- To combat voting fraud, an increasing number of states across the country are passing laws that require voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast their ballots. Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters favor such a requirement.

--  Two-out-of-three voters (66%) think politics in Washington, D.C. will be more partisan over the next year. That finding shows little change from last month but is the highest level measured in nearly a year of monthly tracking.

-- Roughly half of America's workers say they'll use all their vacation time this year, and fewer are connecting with work on their off-time compared to a year ago. 

Please check out the benefits of Platinum Membership and visit the Rasmussen Reports home page for the latest current events polling.

Don't forget Scott's books, In Search of Self Governance and Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System , co-written with Doug Schoen. Both can be purchased at all major book sellers including Amazon.com , Barnes and Noble, Borders and other outlets.

Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen "America's Insurgent Pollster." The Washington Post described him as "a driving force in American politics."  If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.

Remember, if it's in the news, it's in our polls.

ShareThis Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC

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