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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending January 14, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Americans got a taste of the continuing combative relationship between Donald Trump and the media this past week, a radical departure from the love affair most reporters have had with outgoing President Barack Obama.

Voters remain critical of the news coverage of Trump and think the media is still showing the same bias against him that it displayed during the presidential campaign.

More than half of voters feel comfortable with the prospect of one party controlling both the Executive and Legislative branches of government, as Republicans will do when Trump enters the White House next Friday.

The president-elect reiterated at the press conference on Wednesday his intention to repeal Obamacare and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration. He also said he would nominate someone to the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court within his first two weeks. Voters say repealing and replacing the health care law and filling the Supreme Court vacancy are good places to start.

Trump urged the Republican-led Congress to rapidly repeal Obamacare and pass a suitable replacement "very quickly or simultaneously." Few voters support the health care law as is, but most strongly agree with Trump that Congress needs to replace it right away.

More voters than ever are calling for fixing Obamacare piece by piece, though, rather than repealing it entirely.

Republican support for building a border wall right away remains strong, but other voters are growing less enthusiastic.

Trump was asked at the press conference about allegations that Russian hacking led to the disclosure of embarrassing internal Democratic Party emails during the campaign season. He acknowledged that the allegations may be true but still said he hopes to improve relations with the Russians, in part because he sees them as potential allies against the radical Islamic State group (ISIS). A sizable number of voters continue to view Russia as an enemy of the United States, but Republicans are more confident than others that Trump will succeed in improving those relations.

As the debate over Russian hacking efforts during the presidential campaign continues, voters suspect U.S. intelligence agencies have their own political agenda.

Most voters share the views of the president and the party coming to power, but Republicans identify a lot more with Trump than with the GOP Congress.

Republican senators were some of the toughest questioners of Trump’s Cabinet nominees during confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill this past week. Voters are closely divided over whether the U.S. Senate should rubber stamp a president’s Cabinet nominees or pick and choose the ones it likes best.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, one of Trump’s unsuccessful Republican opponents in the presidential race, grilled Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson over his ties to Russia during his confirmation hearing. Forty-six percent (46%) of voters consider the former ExxonMobil CEO’s business ties to Russia and to Russian leader Vladimir Putin bad for America, but Democrats are a lot more worried about those ties than other voters are.

Retired Marine General James Mattis, Trump’s nominee for secretary of Defense, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the United States and its NATO partners must strengthen that alliance to counter Russia’s moves. But voters here tend to agree with Trump that we should pull U.S. troops out of Europe if our NATO allies don’t pick up their fair share of the costs.

Most voters think the U.S. government gives China a pass for its bad behavior because of its economic clout, but many think the U.S.-China relationship is about to change for the worse.

Voters aren’t very optimistic about the future of U.S. relations with either Russia or China but tend to see Russia as a more serious concern for the United States.

Even as Congress and the next president prepare to repeal his biggest legislative achievement, Obama gave a tearful farewell speech in Chicago yesterday, listing some of his administration’s accomplishments and warning his successor about pitfalls in the future. Obama’s daily job approval ratings remain at levels not seen since the opening months of his presidency.

Still, only 31% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

The Justice Department inspector general’s office announced Thursday that it is taking a look at how the department and the FBI handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her time as secretary of State. Clinton says the FBI’s announcement that it was reopening the criminal investigation less than two week before the election cost her the White House, but 60% of voters agree with the FBI’s timing.

Among the 39% of voters who blame outside factors for Clinton’s loss, 40% say the FBI announcement was the biggest culprit.

In other surveys last week:

-- Following Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech criticizing Trump, most Americans see Hollywood celebrities as politically to the left of them and dismiss the stars as poor role models.

-- Americans overall are pretty healthy, but they complain that they are paying more and more to stay that way.

-- As a result, many continue to say they are postponing medical checkups and procedures and not filling prescriptions because they can’t afford them.

-- So what does America think about work these days?

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