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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending December 31, 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trick or treat. That may be the holiday slogan many have in mind as a new year and the Trump presidency beckons.

Americans appear to be a bit more excited about the new year. Some already have big plans for 2017.

Following Donald Trump's election as president, Americans are more optimistic about the future than they have been in over four years. They’re much more upbeat about their  personal financial future than they were a year ago, too.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters now think the country is heading in the right direction, a finding that has been running in the mid-to high 20s for most of this year.

Just over half (51%) of voters now view Trump favorably, his high to date.

Rasmussen Reports’ first survey of Trump's post-election performance - taken two weeks ago - finds that 47% approve of the job he is doing, while just as many (47%) disapprove.  Fifty-five percent (55%) approve of the job President Obama is doing at the end of this week. 

The president in an interview released this week repeated his boast that he could have won a third term if the law had allowed him to run. When he first made that claim last year, just 30% of voters said they would vote for Obama if he ran again.

But 70% of voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the recent election said they would have voted for Obama instead if that had been a legal option.

In his final weeks in office, Obama has turned his guns on Israel and has now ratcheted up attacks on Russia over claims that Russian government-sanctioned hackers made embarrassing internal Democratic Party e-mails available to the media.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) consider America’s relationship with Israel important to U.S. national security, but voters think that relationship has deteriorated under Obama.  They expect it to get better under Trump.

Tensions between the United States and Israel have risen over a recent UN Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most voters continue to have a positive opinion of the United Nations but also still believe the United States is a more positive force for good in the world today than the UN is.

The United States provides nearly one-quarter of the UN’s total funding, not counting peacekeeping expenses, and some critics of the anti-Israel resolution are calling for cuts in the U.S. share. Just 29% of voters believe the United States should continue to give more money to the UN than any other country in the world.

Forty-one percent (41%) think U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern politics is bad for the United States. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and say it's good for America.

Just 28% of voters favor the U.S. government continuing so-called nation-building, a term that in recent years has been used to describe stepped-up efforts to establish democracies in the Middle East by use of the U.S. military and taxpayer dollars.

Similarly, only 28% think the United States should do more to encourage the growth of democracy in the Islamic world.

In other surveys last week:

-- Actress-writer Carrie Fisher, best known for portraying Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" films, passed away this week, capping a year marked by a seemingly high number of major celebrity deaths. Most Americans remember Fisher fondly.

-- Americans are on the road this holiday season. With an improving economy and economic confidence up, 24% tell us they plan to travel for the holidays, tying an all-time high in Rasmussen Reports surveying.

-- Americans say they didn’t use the U.S. Postal Service quite as much this holiday season, but they give the federal agency slightly higher marks for its job performance than they have in the past.

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