Monday, December 27, 2010


What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls
Saturday, December 25, 2010

Time out! Christmas is an appropriate time to take a break from the political and social battles that dominate the landscape the rest of the year. After all, it's still the nation’s most important holiday as far as Americans are concerned, edging the Fourth of July.

More than eight-out of ten Americans celebrate Christmas and 70% do so primarily as a religious holiday honoring the birthday of Jesus. Among those who celebrate Christmas, 81% believe Jesus Christ is the son of God sent to Earth to die for our sins.

But the commercial aspects of the holiday season add a strong element of stress to this peaceful time of year. Our final shopping survey late last week found that one-in-three adults still had holiday gift shopping left to do with only a couple days until Christmas. Seventeen percent (17%) hadn’t even begun shopping yet.

That stress probably helps explain why 45% of Adults say they are having difficulty getting into the Christmas spirit this year.

Speaking of spending, more Americans are confident about using their credit cards for purchases on the Internet this year in spite of an increase in the number of adults who say they've been the victims of credit card theft online.

Despite the busy shopping season, fewer Americans with credit cards think they'll miss a payment in the next six months, compared to past surveys.

Still, Americans overwhelmingly agree that credit cards entice people into spending money they don't have. Eighty-one percent (81%) think that most Americans need to cut back on credit card spending but only 36% think they personally need to cut back.

While consumers have indicated slightly less reluctance to spend this holiday season, most voters still don’t think the government has it right when it comes to the economy.

Just 24% think the current policies of the federal government have put the U.S. economy on the right course, a finding unchanged since September when President Obama made the claim.

The Rasmussen Reports Consumer and Investor Indexes, which monitor daily confidence in those groups, showed little movement over the past week but still show economic confidence remains slightly higher than it was a year ago.

Voters continue to send mixed signals about the $787-billion economic stimulus plan approved last year by Congress, even as spending for some portions of the plan begin to run out.

For the first time since Democrats in Congress passed the health care bill in March, a majority of voters believe the measure is likely to be repealed. Voters have consistently for months favored repeal and have predicted the bill will drive up health care costs and the federal deficit.

With the national unemployment rate at 9.8 percent, the president in a recent meeting with top U.S. business leaders urged them to use some of their ample cash reserves to create new jobs, and voters think that’s a good idea. But they draw the line at the government making the businesses spend their money that way.

Most voters think the most important role for government, in fact, is to protect their individual rights. But right now many voters are angry at the government’s policies and question their constitutionality.

While the midterm elections initially brought some good will to the voter ratings for the top congressional leaders, the subsequent month seems to have taken it away. Ratings for the four leaders as the current session of Congress draws to a close have now fallen back to their pre-election levels, with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid unpopular with most voters and the lesser-known Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell earning mixed marks.

It will be interesting to see how those numbers move once Republicans take over the House next month and Boehner replaces Pelosi as speaker of the House.

For the second week in a row, just 23% of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction. This remains the most pessimistic finding since January 2009.

Unhappiness with the government’s policies and the direction of the country prompted the rise of the Tea Party movement that has been widely credited with playing a major role in Election 2010. New Rasmussen Reports numbers give a clearer picture of who makes up the movement at year’s end.

Most voters expect that the grass roots movement will have as much, if not more, influence on the 2012 political campaigns. Tea Party members are much more emphatic: 79% expect their movement to play a bigger role in 2012. Scott Rasmussen talks about the Tea Party’s anticipated role in the next national elections in a new video.

At week’s end, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll found that 46% of voters approve of the job Obama is doing, while 53% disapprove. His approval ratings have remained remarkably stable throughout the entire year of 2010.

In other surveys last week:

-- Republicans hold a seven-point lead over Democrats – 45% to 38% - on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending December 19.

-- The Senate late Wednesday approved the START Treaty that calls for a reduction in the nuclear weapons stockpiles of both Russia and the United States, but only 27% of voters trust Russia to honor the nuclear weapons agreement.

-- Though a sizable number of voters view the religious faith of political candidates as important, they don’t want their local religious leaders telling them who to vote for. Voters have mixed feelings about how much influence religious leaders have when it comes to U.S. government policy, but very few believe most politicians put their religious faith first.

-- Americans overwhelmingly say major entertainment awards don't determine what movies or TV shows they watch or what music they buy.

-- The New England Patriots were the first team in the National Football League to punch their ticket to the playoffs, and now one-in-three football fans expects they will win this year’s Super Bowl.

-- Two of the more compelling stories in the National Football League this year are the resurrection of Michael Vick’s career and the impending end of Brett Favre’s. A survey of 3,300 professional football fans shows that 47% view Vick favorably, while 55% see Favre in a favorable light.

-- There has been much controversy over the new National Football League helmet-to-helmet contact rules, but a strong majority of professional football fans support these safety penalties.

As always, we invite you to check out the benefits of Platinum Membership and visit the Rasmussen Reports home page for the latest current events polling.

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