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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Misperceptions, misleading reporting and mistakes all around – that seems to be a large part of the surprise story of Donald Trump’s victory.

Just over half (52%) of voters wrongly predicted in a survey released Monday that Democrat Hillary Clinton would be the next president of the United States.

Of course, that perception was guided by media coverage that a plurality (46%) of voters rated as poor.

Sixty-two percent (62%) say the media, not the candidates, set the agenda in the presidential campaign, and 74% believe the media was more interested in controversy than in the issues.

This was a media that voters long thought tilted in Clinton’s favor.

Voters bought into the controversy-driven media agenda and said most voters would make their decision this year based on those controversies.  Just 27%, however, ultimately said  the character of the candidates was most important to their vote.

It turned out instead that issues mattered. Voters were slightly more convinced that Clinton knew where she wanted to lead the country. Unfortunately for her, she was on the wrong side of those issues, according to Rasmussen Reports surveys all year.

A plurality (48%) of voters thinks Tuesday’s election results were more a vote against Clinton than a vote for Trump. Thirty-five percent (35%) say they were more a vote for Trump.

One-in-four voters waited until the final week to make up their minds.

So which issues drove voters’ decisions this presidential election year?

Unlike other pollsters, the three daily tracking polls – the Los Angeles Times, IBD/TIPP and Rasmussen Reports – consistently showed a much tighter race than other pollsters did.  This is why pollsters disagree.

Rasmussen Reports’ final White House Watch daily tracking poll survey was posted Monday morning. It showed Clinton with a two-point advantage over Republican Donald Trump – 45% to 43%. To be precise, it was Clinton 44.8% to Trump 43.1%, a difference of 1.7%.

Obviously Trump won in the Electoral College. But in the popular vote, Clinton appears to have captured 47.7% of the votes cast, Trump 47.4% - a difference of 0.3%. Our final poll, therefore, appears to be the closest among all pollsters who correctly picked Clinton to win the popular vote.

Trump won 290 to 228 in the Electoral College. He captured 29 states; Clinton won 19 states and the District of Columbia. Two states are still too close to call: New Hampshire with four Electoral College votes and Michigan with 16.

This appears to be the fourth time in U.S. history that the president-elect lost the overall vote but won the Electoral College to take the White House. Before the election results came in, a majority of voters said the Electoral College needs to go. Republicans felt that way strongest, although it’s somewhat doubtful they feel that way now.

Voters tend to think both presidential candidates ran mostly negative campaigns this year but feel Trump's was far more negative than Clinton’s. However, most voters are reassured by the first post-election speeches President-elect Trump and Clinton gave.

What if we had an election, and it didn’t matter? Sadly, that’s what many Americans were thinking about the major issues facing the nation, even before the votes were counted.

Just prior to the election, only 30% of voters said the country was headed in the right direction.  Yet this week President Obama has earned some of the highest job approval ratings of his entire presidency.

In other surveys last week:

--- California, Massachusetts and Nevada are the latest states to legalize recreational use of pot, and nearly half of voters favor such a law where they live.

-- Pulse Opinion Research conducts the field work and provides the methodology for all Rasmussen Reports surveys. Pulse did a number of state tracking surveys during the presidential election season for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Entertainment Software Association. Here’s the Auto Alliance’s analysis of those survey results.

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