AP-GfK Poll: Americans happy at home, upset with federal government
CHICAGO (AP) — All that talk of an angry America?

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that most Americans are happy with their friends and family, feel good about their finances and are more or less content at work. It’s government, particularly the federal government, that’s making them see red.

Almost 8 in 10 Americans say they’re dissatisfied or angry with the way the federal government is working, while about the same proportion say they’re satisfied or enthusiastic about their personal lives. Republicans are far more likely to be angry — half of GOP voters, compared with about one-quarter of Democrats or independents — and those Republicans are much more supportive of Donald Trump, the front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination.

Still, anger isn’t so much driven by political ideology as it is by an overall disdain for a political system that doesn’t seem to be working, voters said in follow-up interviews. They’re upset with both parties, as well as career politicians and Washington insiders who, those surveyed said, don’t put their constituents’ interests first.

“There are too many lobbyists and people who are not really working for the people anymore. They’re working to line their own pockets,” said 37-year-old Greg Boire of Belding, Michigan, who works as a bank customer service representative and voted for Trump in that state’s Republican primary. “It happens on both sides. … It’s just the whole government in general.”

John Santoro of San Jose, California, a 58-year-old market development manager for a company that makes semiconductor-related products, said he’s doing well financially but is angry about a lack of progress to lower the country’s debt.

He mostly blames President Barack Obama, but “politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame because they just can’t get anything done. They just fundraise and get contributions from special interests.”

The AP-GfK poll showed that angry Republicans such as Boire and Santoro were much more likely than those who are just dissatisfied to have a favorable view of Trump, by 62 percent to 42 percent. Fifty-eight percent of dissatisfied Republicans, but just 36 percent of angry ones, have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

Both men say they do support Trump — to a point. They believe he could shake up Washington, but worry about his rhetoric and lack of campaign organization.

Boire said he’s impressed that Trump is spending his own money and that what he says “is his opinion and not that of the lobbyists.” But Boire would be satisfied if the more politically experienced Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the nomination because Trump “does not have the filter to shut off” negative comments.

Santoro said he might vote for Cruz in the California primary if Trump doesn’t “cinch things up” and run a more professional campaign.

Even so, Trump has harnessed anger toward the federal government to win many die-hard supporters, like 58-year-old Debra Waterson of Petoskey, Michigan. She supported Obama in 2008 and former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., four years ago.

She’s upset that the gun lobby has a strong influence in Washington and that the Senate won’t vote on Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court. But she’s even angrier about the economy and foreign trade deals, so she voted for Trump in the Republican primary.

“Up here in northern Michigan, there is so much unemployment and so many can’t afford to eat or buy medicine,” said Waterson, who said her family is getting by.

In the Democratic race against Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also has drawn support of voters who say they’re fed up with the federal government.

Retired Miami postal worker Kenneth Olinsky, a Sanders supporter, said he’s angry at Republicans in Congress for being “obstructionist” on legislation that could help working-class or low-income families.

“They haven’t done anything for the people as much as they’ve done for the wealthy and for businesses,” said Olinsky, 61. “There is a definite class system in this country; it’s the haves against the have nots.”

In the poll, people were slightly more likely to describe the economy as good than they were in February, 45 percent to 41 percent. Despite the current uptick, 54 percent describe the economy as poor.

Still, two-thirds or more of Democrats and Republicans say they’re at least satisfied with their personal and family relationships, financial situations, careers, and work-life balance. Independents lag behind on each of those measures, but are still more likely than not to be satisfied with each.

But the vast majority of Americans — 71 percent — still think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly half of Democrats, but less than 1 in 10 Republicans, think the country is headed in the right direction.

Christopher Ashby, 32, a stay-at-home dad in Albemarle, North Carolina, who describes himself as a very conservative Republican and firm Trump supporter, said he is angry about government handouts for people and corporations and the influence of lobbyists and special-interest groups.

“For everyone in politics at this moment, it’s a career, and nobody is in this career to help the little person,” said Ashby. “We need a complete whitewash of the system (because) politics should … be something you do because you love helping the people.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the Internet were provided access for free.

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Swanson reported from Washington.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans prefer low prices to items ‘Made in the USA’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled “Made in the U.S.A.,” even if it means those cheaper items are made abroad, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

While presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are vowing to bring back millions of American jobs lost to China and other foreign competitors, public sentiment reflects core challenges confronting the U.S. economy. Incomes have barely improved, forcing many households to look for the most convenient bargains instead of goods made in America. Employers now seek workers with college degrees, leaving those with only a high school degree who once would have held assembly lines jobs in the lurch. And some Americans who work at companies with clients worldwide see themselves as part of a global market.

Nearly three in four say they would like to buy goods manufactured inside the United States, but those items are often too costly or difficult to find, according to the survey released Thursday. A mere 9 percent say they only buy American.

Asked about a real world example of choosing between $50 pants made in another country or an $85 pair made in the United States — one retailer sells two such pairs made with the same fabric and design — 67 percent say they’d buy the cheaper pair. Only 30 percent would pony up for the more expensive American-made one. People in higher earning households earning more than $100,000 a year are no less likely than lower-income Americans to say they’d go for the lower price.

“Low prices are a positive for US consumers — it stretches budgets and allows people to save for their retirements, if they’re wise, with dollars that would otherwise be spent on day-to-day living,” said Sonya Grob, 57, a middle school secretary from Norman, Oklahoma who described herself as a “liberal Democrat.”

But Trump and Sanders have galvanized many voters by attacking recent trade deals.

From their perspective, layoffs and shuttered factories have erased the benefits to the economy from reduced consumer prices.

“We’re getting ripped off on trade by everyone,” said Trump, the Republican front-runner, at a Monday speech in Albany, New York. “Jobs are going down the drain, folks.”

The real estate mogul and reality television star has threatened to shred the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. He has also threatened to slap sharp tariffs on China in hopes of erasing the overall $540 billion trade deficit.

Economists doubt that Trump could deliver on his promises to create the first trade surplus since 1975. Many see the backlash against trade as frustration with a broader economy coping with sluggish income gains.

“The reaction to trade is less about trade and more about the decline in people’s ability to achieve the American Dream,” said Caroline Freund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It’s a lot easier to blame the foreigner than other forces that are affecting stagnant wage growth like technology.”

But Trump’s message appeals to Merry Post, 58, of Paris, Texas where the empty factories are daily reminders of what was lost. Sixty-eight percent of people with a favorable opinion of Trump said that free trade agreements decreased the number of jobs available to Americans.

“In our area down here in Texas, there used to be sewing factories and a lot of cotton gins,” Post said. “I’ve watched them all shut down as things went to China, Mexico and the Philippines. All my friends had to take early retirements or walk away.”

Sanders, the Vermont senator battling for the Democratic nomination, has pledged to end the exodus of jobs overseas.

“I will stop it by renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have,” Sanders told the New York Daily News editorial board earlier this month, saying that the wages paid to foreigner workers and environmental standards would be part of any deal he would strike.

Still, voters are divided as to whether free trade agreements hurt job creation and incomes.

Americans are slightly more likely to say free trade agreements are positive for the economy overall than negative, 33 percent to 27 percent. But 37 percent say the deals make no difference. Republicans (35 percent) are more likely than Democrats (22 percent) to say free trade agreements are bad for the economy.

On jobs, 46 percent say the agreements decrease jobs for American workers, while 11 percent say they improve employment opportunities and 40 percent that they make no difference. Pessimism was especially pronounced among the 18 percent of respondents with a family member or friend whose job was offshored. Sixty-four percent of this group said free trade had decreased the availability of jobs.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com

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On Twitter follow Emily Swanson at @EL_Swan and Josh Boak at @joshboak


AP-GfK Poll: Public wants Senate action on court, but interest is modest

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 2 in 3 Americans back Democrats’ demands that the Republican-run Senate hold hearings and a vote on President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. But an Associated Press-GfK poll also suggests that GOP defiance against considering the nominee may not hurt the party much because, to many people, the election-year fight is simply not a big deal.

Just 1 in 5 in the survey released Wednesday said they’ve been following the battle over Obama’s nomination of federal judge Merrick Garland extremely or very closely.

That included just 26 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans expressing intense interest, along with a scant 8 percent of independents. That aligns with the political reading of the issue by many Republicans that while it motivates each side’s most committed partisans, people in the middle consider it a yawner — making the fight essentially a wash.

Another clue that voters not dedicated to either party find the court fight tiresome: While just over half of Democrats and Republicans said the issue is extremely or very important, only around a third of independents — and half of Americans overall — said so.

About 8 in 10 said that about the economy and about 7 in 10 took the same stance about health care and the threat posed by the Islamic State group. Immigration and the U.S. role in world affairs both attracted slightly more intensity of interest than the court battle.

“It gets me irritated, the bickering and all that kind of stuff,” Julie Christopher, 49, a Republican and flight attendant from Fort Worth, Texas, said in a follow-up interview, describing her modest attention to the issue.

Christopher said that while she agrees with the GOP’s refusal to hold hearings on Garland, when it comes to backing candidates in November, “That’s not going to be my only thing, like boom, I’m not going to vote for them.”

Hours after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his chamber would not consider an Obama nominee and would instead wait until the president elected this November makes a pick. With the remaining justices split 4-4 between those leaning conservative or liberal, most GOP senators have lined up behind McConnell.

Democrats have been spewing outrage ever since. Along with liberal groups, they’ve been using television ads, news conferences, public demonstrations and Senate speeches to ratchet up pressure on GOP senators, especially those facing re-election this fall in swing and Democratic-leaning states like Illinois, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Democrats’ theory is that the public wants Republicans to end their obstruction and let the Senate do its job, forcing GOP senators to relent on Garland or risk defeat in November. The AP-GfK poll has some data backing that up.

The 64 percent who favor hearings and a vote this year on Garland include an overwhelming proportion of Democrats and a sizable minority of Republicans, 40 percent. Independents, who can be pivotal in closely divided states, back action this year, 52 percent to 36 percent.

“I’d rather see at least deliberations, and see Congress do its job,” said Marc Frigon, 33, a high-tech worker from Beverly, Massachusetts, who leans Republican and wants the Senate to reject Garland’s confirmation. “I feel like that’s why we elected them in the first place.”

Just over half of moderate and liberal Republicans want the Senate to hold hearings this year, while fewer than 3 in 10 GOP conservatives say that.

Overall, people say by 59 percent to 36 percent that they want the Senate to approve Garland should a vote be held. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats favor confirmation and independents tilt slightly that way, while 69 percent of Republicans favor rejecting him.

In another sign that the public tips toward Obama on the issue, 57 percent approve of the way he’s been handling the Garland nomination. That’s more than the number who gave the president positive reviews on any other issue in the poll: the economy, health care, Islamic State militants, immigration and world affairs.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the Internet were provided access for free.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Republicans not itching for a convention fight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Republican voters think the candidate with the most delegates heading into the party’s convention in July should ultimately emerge as the GOP’s presidential nominee, regardless of whether he holds the majority of all delegates needed to secure the nomination, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The survey finds Republicans are more likely to think of Donald Trump as a possible general election winner than either of his current GOP rivals.

Here are some things to know about opinions on a contested convention and which Republican candidates could win a general election from the latest AP-GfK poll:

NOT LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES

According to the new poll, nearly 6 in 10 Republican voters — 58 percent — think the candidate with the most delegates after all the state contests are finished should be the nominee, even if he doesn’t have a clear majority.

Just 40 percent think it would be acceptable for the delegates to pick a different candidate.

That’s true even though slightly fewer have a favorable opinion of Trump, who will likely go into the convention with more delegates than any other candidate. Just 53 percent of Republican voters have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

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DIVIDED OVER TRUMP

Within the Republican Party, opinions of Trump draw a dramatic divide in terms of how the convention should work out.

Eight in 10 Republican voters who have a favorable opinion of Trump think the party should nominate the ultimate delegate leader.

But among Republican voters with an unfavorable opinion of Trump, two-thirds think it would be acceptable for the delegates to choose someone else. Another third of those who don’t like Trump nonetheless think the party should nominate the delegate leader in the end.

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AMERICA DIVIDED

Among all Americans, nearly half think it would be acceptable for the delegates at the GOP convention to choose a different nominee, while about as many think the candidate in the lead should be the nominee.

Democratic voters think by a 63 percent to 35 percent margin that it would be acceptable for the Republican delegates to nominate another candidate if the leader doesn’t have a majority of delegates.

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PICKING A WINNER?

Although some Republican leaders have expressed concern that a Trump nomination would lead to a loss in November, that’s not a concern most Republican voters share. Eighty-one percent think Trump could possibly win a general election, versus those who say so of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (66 percent) or Ohio Gov. John Kasich (just 41 percent).

But the poll suggests both of the top GOP candidates would in fact be hard sells in a general election, with 63 percent of registered voters saying they would definitely not vote for Trump and 55 percent that they wouldn’t consider voting for Cruz. Forty-four percent say they wouldn’t consider voting for Kasich.

By contrast, 51 percent say they wouldn’t consider voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a general election and 38 percent wouldn’t consider voting for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Still, even among Americans as a whole, about 6 in 10 think Trump could potentially win a general election, just under half think Cruz could and only a third think Kasich could. Kasich is still largely unknown to the American people, with 34 percent, including 26 percent of Republican voters, unable to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/EL_Swan

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Most voters say ‘meh’ _ at best _ on the presidential field
WASHINGTON (AP) — Most American voters say “meh” — at best — about the 2016 field of presidential candidates in both parties.

That’s according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, which shows that a majority of Americans believe none of the remaining candidates for president represents their opinions at least somewhat well.

At least half of Americans say they would be disappointed or even angry if either of the front-runners — Donald Trump for the Republicans or Hillary Clinton for the Democrats — are nominated, the survey shows. And a quarter said they would be disappointed or angry if both win nominations. Still another quarter would feel at best neutral if both are nominated.

 Among all registered voters, 63 percent say they wouldn’t consider voting for Trump and half say the same about Clinton.

About one-fifth of those surveyed say they’d either probably or definitely vote for a third-party candidate if Trump and Clinton are the nominees.

Roland Bauer, 64, a retiree from Winter Springs, Fla., plans not to vote if Clinton and Trump are nominated. “I don’t trust politicians,” he says. “Everybody is on the take.”

Bruce Bertsch, a libertarian and retired human resources director from San Diego, says the public’s lukewarm reaction to the major-party hopefuls doesn’t come from disinterest or apathy — quite the opposite. Here’s how his friends and family see the candidates:

“Hillary Clinton is a liar. Donald Trump is an idiot. And Bernie (Sanders)? He’s an old fool,” Bertsch, 78, said by telephone Monday. To Bertsch, the Republican and Democratic competitors look like this: “The Democrats want to spend my money. The Republicans want to tell me how to live my life — and then spend my money.”

The AP-GfK poll suggests the general election, after the parties name nominees, will be less about emotional appeals and inspiration and more about getting actual voters to cast votes before the end of Election Day. It’s what insiders call the “ground game.” And much of it is played over the airwaves at enormous expense.

“In the general election, it’s an air war,” said former Republican strategist Rich Galen, author of a political blog. “The goal is to get not only your people out to vote, but to get these people who are maybe sitting on the sidelines excited enough to come out and join the game.”

Even within their own parties, neither Trump nor Clinton generates much enthusiasm. Only 26 percent of Democratic voters say they’d be excited about Clinton being their nominee, and 27 percent say they’d be satisfied. Another 23 percent would feel neutral, 19 percent would be disappointed and 5 percent would be angry, the poll found.

Trump fares even worse among Republican voters, with 19 percent saying they’d be enthusiastic, 19 percent satisfied, 20 percent neutral, 25 percent disappointed and 16 percent angry.

Less than half of Americans say any of the remaining candidates, including Sanders, Ted Cruz or John Kasich, comes close to representing their opinions on the issues.

And in a year dominated by Trump-generated theatrics and his so-far scant policy details, substance matters, most voters say. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans call a candidate’s positions on the issues extremely or very important to them.

Among all the remaining candidates, only Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic rival, generates significantly more positive than negative ratings from Americans, with 48 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him and 39 percent unfavorable. He’s also the only candidate described by a majority of Americans as at least somewhat likable, civil, honest and compassionate.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, nearly 6-in-10 have an unfavorable view of Cruz and a majority — 55 percent — have an unfavorable view of Clinton, according to the poll.

Americans are fairly evenly divided on Kasich, with 34 percent expressing a favorable view and 31 percent an unfavorable one. Another 34 percent still don’t know enough about him to say.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults used a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Follow Laurie Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman and Emily Swanson at http://www.twitter.com/El_Swan .

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Sanders lags in delegates but leads in likability
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is still behind when it comes to delegates and votes, but he has one clear advantage over his Democratic and Republican presidential rivals — a lot of people actually like him.

By 48 percent to 39 percent, more Americans have a favorable than an unfavorable opinion of Sanders, giving him the best net-positive rating in the field, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Unlike the other candidates, Sanders also is doing better as more Americans get to know him: His favorable rating is up from an earlier AP-GfK poll.

The numbers speak to Sanders’ rapid rise from a relatively unknown Vermont senator to a celebrated voice proclaiming political revolution. They also reflect just how unpopular the rest of the field is.

But the growing popularity may be coming too late for Sanders, who lags Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, with time running out in the primary campaign.

After winning the Democratic caucuses in Wyoming on Saturday, Sanders has now won seven of the past eight state contests. Still, to win the Democratic nomination, he must take 68 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates, which would require a sudden burst of blow-out victories.

“I just like everything that he talks about and that he wants to do,” said Brian Cane, 54, of Spokane, Washington. “I think Hillary, she’s too mainstream government. Bernie Sanders is fresh and new and the Republicans are freaking idiots.”

Still, Cane echoed the sentiments of many Democrats, saying that if Clinton wins the primary, “Yeah, I’ll vote for her.”

The poll was conducted March 31-April 4, before Sanders and Clinton sparred publicly over who was best qualified to be president.

Sanders’ popularity stands in contrast to the rest of the remaining candidates. Clinton gets unfavorable ratings from 55 percent of Americans, while just 40 percent have a favorable opinion. A whopping 69 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Republican leader Donald Trump, and just 26 percent have a favorable opinion.

Among Democrats, 72 percent have a favorable opinion of Sanders and 20 percent have an unfavorable opinion. That’s similar to Democrats’ rating of Clinton. It’s also improved from 61 percent who had a favorable view of Sanders in February, while his unfavorable rating remained stable.

“I’ve grown to like him more. The exposure that he’s getting, there’s a bit of a snowball effect with his campaign,” said Les Blackmore, 60, of Washington, D.C., who is leaning toward Sanders.

Twenty-three percent of Republicans and 38 percent of independents have a favorable view of Sanders, while 67 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents give him negative ratings. Just 7 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents rate Clinton positively.

About 61 percent of registered voters say they’d at least consider voting for Sanders in a general election, while 38 percent said they would definitely not. The percentage saying they would not vote for him is the lowest in the entire field. Fifty-one percent say they wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, though she still does better than any of the Republican candidates on that measure. Sixty-three percent say they wouldn’t vote for Trump.

Sanders is the only candidate remaining in the field on either side who’s viewed as at least somewhat honest, compassionate, civil and likable by a majority of Americans.

Fifty-eight percent say he’s at least somewhat civil, compared with 48 percent for Clinton and just 15 percent for Trump. Likewise, 58 percent call him at least somewhat compassionate, compared with 42 percent for Clinton and 17 percent for Trump.

“I do like both of them,” said Tami Cinquemani, 55, of Apopka, Florida, who voted for Clinton. “I feel like Hillary is more qualified. … I like Bernie. Honestly I wouldn’t be disappointed either way.”

Though Sanders is more popular, Clinton remains the candidate viewed by the most Americans as able to win a general election, with 82 percent saying she could capture the White House. Just 6 in 10 say that of Sanders or Trump.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.


AP-GfK Poll: Clinton has edge over Trump on range of issues

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stark warning for Donald Trump as he eyes a possible general election showdown with Hillary Clinton, Americans trust the Democratic front-runner more than the Republican businessman to handle a wide range of issues — from immigration to health care to nominating Supreme Court justices.

Even when asked which of the two candidates would be best at “making American great” — the central promise of Trump’s campaign — Americans are slightly more likely to side with Clinton, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The survey does reveal some potential trouble spots for Clinton. Trump is nearly even with her on whom Americans trust to handle the economy, which voters consistently rank as one of the top issues facing the country. Clinton is trusted more on the economy by 38 percent of Americans, while 35 percent side with Trump.

And despite Americans’ overall preference for Clinton on a host of issues, just 20 percent say she represents their own views very well on matters they care about, while 23 percent say somewhat well.

But as with most issues addressed in the AP-GfK poll, the numbers for Trump are even worse: Just 15 percent of Americans say he represents their views very well and 14 percent say somewhat well.

Trump’s support with registered Republican voters is also soft on some issues, with less than 50 percent saying they trust him over Clinton on working with Congress or handling the U.S. image abroad. About a quarter of Republicans say they trust neither candidate on either of those issues.

Those figures underscore the work the real estate mogul must do to shore up support within his own party if he’s the nominee.

Greg Freeman, an independent who leans Republican, said he would “absolutely not” trust Trump to handle major issues facing the United States.

“I think he would have the U.S. in wars at the drop of a hat. He would make the international community angry at the United States,” said Freeman, a 41-year-old from Walhalla, South Carolina. “He has a lot of comments on issues, but he has no solutions.”

While Clinton and Trump are the favorites to face off in the fall campaign, obstacles remain, particularly for the Republican billionaire. He’s leading in the delegate count, but needs to perform better in the upcoming final primaries in order to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. If he fails to hit that number, the GOP contest will be decided at the party’s convention in July — and it’s unclear whether Trump’s slim campaign operation is prepared for that complex challenge.

Clinton has yet to shake Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator who has energized young voters with his calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and making tuition free at public colleges and universities.

While Sanders faces tough odds of overtaking Clinton, who has a commanding lead in delegates, his continued presence in the race has rankled the former secretary of state and prevented her from fully turning her attention toward the general election.

Still, Clinton has been starting to draw a contrast with her potential Republican opponents, namely Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, his closest rival.

“I’m really looking forward to debating either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz,” Clinton said Friday. “Mr. Trump, tell me again about how you’re going to build this wall and make the Mexicans pay for it. Tell me again why you think it’s a good idea for Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons.”

Trump’s campaign appears well-aware of the need to bolster the businessman’s policy credentials. He’s recently expanded on his foreign policy views, including questioning U.S. participation in the NATO military alliance and suggesting some Asian nations may need nuclear weapons. Campaign officials have also said Trump plans to give a series of policy speeches in the coming weeks.

Clinton’s edge over Trump on the issues spans both foreign and domestic policy.

She holds a significant advantage on handling immigration, health care, the U.S. image abroad, filling Supreme Court vacancies, international trade and working with Congress. Her biggest advantage is on handling gender equality issues, with 55 percent of Americans trusting her and just 12 percent backing Trump.

Clinton has a slimmer lead over Trump on which candidate is trusted to protect the country, with 37 percent backing the Democrat and 31 percent backing the Republican. The margin is similar when Americans were asked who they trusted to handle the threat posed by the Islamic State group.

Much of Trump’s appeal with voters has rested on his broad pledge to “make America great again.” But when asked which candidate they trusted more to make the country great, 33 percent of Americans picked Clinton and 28 percent backed Trump.

Thirty percent said they didn’t trust either candidate to make that happen.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Follow Julie Pace and Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and http://twitter.com/EL_Swan

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Improved economic outlook boosts Obama approval
WASHINGTON (AP) — As many in the United States hold their noses in the search for the next president, they’re increasingly warming to the president they already have.

Buoyed by some good economic news and a surge of goodwill from his base of supporters, President Barack Obama is seeing his approval rating rise. That puts Obama, who leaves office in January, in a position to remain a force in the political debate at a point in his final term when some others faded into the background.

For the first time since 2013, half of those questioned approve of the job Obama is doing in office, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. The survey found the apparent uptick in approval extended across issues, including foreign affairs, immigration and, most notably the economy, where people said they felt slightly better about their own prospects and Obama’s stewardship.

Asked about their opinion of Obama more generally, those surveyed were more likely to give him a positive rating than any of the candidates for president, Republican or Democrat.

Terry Trudeau, 66, said he preferred Obama to “all of them” running for the White House.

“One of the qualities I like is he’s been able to work with other countries and make deals,” Trudeau said, citing Obama’s climate change pacts with China as an example. “Donald Trump will never been able to do that. He would try to bully them.”

Obama’s numbers remain modest.

Compared with his predecessors, he’s well above Republican George W. Bush, who had about a 30 percent approval rating at this point in his presidency, but below Democrat Bill Clinton’s roughly 60 percent, according to polls conducted by Gallup. Still, where each of those second-term presidents largely sat on the sidelines during the races to replace them, Obama is poised to stay in the game.

Approval ratings generally are tied to how people feel about the economy. Obama has enjoyed and promoted a steady trickle of positive economic news. The survey showed people were slightly more likely to describe the economy as good and slightly more optimistic about their own financial situations than they were in February.

Still, 54 percent characterize the economy as poor.

While the poll found an increase in approval among Democrats and with people under 50, there is no evidence that Republican opposition is thawing or that the president has become a less polarizing figure. Only about 1 in 10 Republicans expressed a positive opinion of Obama or the job he’s doing.

“I just feel that he’s out of touch with what’s going on. I feel like he’s more concerned with his legacy that making change,” said Angela Buckmaster, a 47-year-old Republican from Lansing, Michigan.

Still, the numbers may help explain some of Obama’s recent swagger and why it’s likely to continue as he tries to rally his party behind its eventual 2016 nominee — Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

Obama has been quick to take aim at GOP candidates. This past week, he called front-runner Trump’s latest immigration proposal “half-baked.” The president seized the spotlight with a new rule and aggressive critique aimed at corporate tax dodgers, risking riling Wall Street but capitalizing on the populism of the moment.

He has put himself at the front and center of the fight over the Supreme Court, returning on Thursday to the law school where he once taught and portraying the GOP blockade of his nominee as a threat to democracy.

Obama also conducted his first interview as president with “Fox News Sunday,” a favorite show for conservatives.

The White House says Obama always planned to squeeze every last minute out of his two terms, regardless of his popularity. Aides have promised more policy announcements, particularly economic initiatives, as several efforts long in the works come to fruition.

Also, he probably will be a force in the campaign, working to fire up his core coalition of young, African-American and Hispanic voters, and backers in Rust Belt states, where he has continued to show strength.

Eighty-one percent of those questioned in the poll say the economy is a very or extremely important issue to them personally, compared with the 74 percent who say that about health care or the 69 percent about the threat posed by the Islamic State group.

People were split 49 percent to 49 percent, in their approval or disapproval of Obama’s handling of the economy. But that divide was a slight improvement over the 44 percent approval in February.

On other issues, views of Obama are not as rosy. More in the survey disapprove than approve of his handling of world affairs, the threat from IS, immigration, and health care. But on each measure, Obama has improved at least slightly since February.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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Online:

Poll: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Many dislike Clinton _ but more disdain Trump

By LISA LERER and EMILY SWANSON

WASHINGTON (AP) — In any other election year, more than half the country holding an unfavorable impression of a candidate for president would be cause for alarm.

This is not a normal year.

Fifty-five percent of Americans say they have a negative opinion of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the latest AP-GfK poll. Bu that’s not nearly as bad as how they view the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump. His unfavorable rating stands at an unprecedented 69 percent.

 The negative feelings for both are a harbinger of a general election contest that’s shaping up to be less about voters supporting the candidate of their choice, and more about their picking the one they dislike the least.

“I don’t really feel like either one is that trustworthy,” said Devin Sternadre, 26, a student from northeastern Ohio. “Most of the elections that have happened in the past I’ve felt strongly about a candidate, and I just don’t this time.

“But yeah, if it was held today I guess I would vote Clinton,” he said, with a deep sigh. “I just wish there were more choices.”

Democratic strategists say Trump’s deep unpopularity has alleviated some of their concern over views of Clinton. While 55 percent of Americans have a “somewhat” or “very” unfavorable impression of the former secretary of state, that’s about the same number as those who have a “very unfavorable” opinion of Trump.

As the campaign moves toward the general election, Democrats argue, the dynamic will shift from being a referendum on Clinton’s character to a choice between her and a Republican opponent. If that Republican is Trump, Democrats see an opportunity to unify their own party behind Clinton and make inroads with independents and Republicans.

Nearly half of all registered voters say they would at least consider voting for Clinton, far more than say they are open to voting for Trump. Sixty-three percent say they definitely wouldn’t vote for Trump in a general election.

Even in more historically conservative Southern states, where Trump swept the GOP primaries, voters are somewhat more likely to say they would at least consider Clinton. Half say they are open to her candidacy, and 39 percent to his.

Voters are more likely to have a positive opinion of Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, with only 38 percent saying they would definitely not vote for the Vermont senator. He trails far behind Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Lara Robles, a Republican from Round Rock, Texas, said she would back Clinton, even though she has been surprised to find her views aligned with Trump on a number of issues.

“I think she flip-flops on a lot of her views, but I would vote for Hillary,” said the mother of three. “I just don’t really like him as a person. I think he doesn’t have a filter on his mouth.”

Clinton is not held in very high regard among the general public. Most Americans view her as not particularly compassionate, honest or likable. They have mixed feelings on her civility, decisiveness and competence.

Half of all Americans say Clinton is “not at all” honest, with another 18 percent saying she’s slightly honest. That number mirrors views on Trump, with more than seven in ten saying the word honest describes him only slightly or not at all well.

But on the other attributes, Clinton’s negative ratings are at least better than the overwhelmingly disapproving views Americans have of Trump.

More than half say Clinton is not especially compassionate, and six in 10 say she’s only slightly or not at all likable. Eighty percent do not find Trump compassionate and three-quarters do not see him as likable.

“What I want in a president is someone who wouldn’t cause trouble for the country. I think Donald Trump would,” said Steve Fantuzzi, a 54-year-old registered Republican in the Chicago suburbs. “Hillary’s OK. I don’t have a problem with her.”

And unlike Trump, members of Clinton’s party largely like her. More than 7 in 10 Democratic voters have a favorable opinion, compared to 53 percent of Republicans who have a positive view of Trump.

Just 17 percent of Democratic voters say they wouldn’t vote for Clinton in the general election, about the same share as wouldn’t back Sanders should he win the nomination. Thirty-one percent of Republicans say the same about Trump.

Clinton remains the candidate viewed by the most Americans as able to win a general election, with 82 percent saying she could capture the White House. Just 6 in 10 say that of Sanders or Trump.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Follow Lisa Lerer and Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/llerer and http://twitter.com/EL_Swan

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans overwhelmingly view Trump negatively

WASHINGTON (AP) — For Americans of nearly every race, gender, political persuasion and location, disdain for Donald Trump runs deep, saddling the Republican front-runner with unprecedented unpopularity as he tries to overcome recent campaign setbacks.

Seven in 10 people, including close to half of Republican voters, have an unfavorable view of Trump, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. It’s an opinion shared by majorities of men and women; young and old; conservatives, moderates and liberals; and whites, Hispanics and blacks — a devastatingly broad indictment of the billionaire businessman.

Even in the South, a region where Trump has won GOP primaries decisively, close to 70 percent view him unfavorably. And among whites without a college education, one of Trump’s most loyal voting blocs, 55 percent have a negative opinion.

Trump still leads the Republican field in delegates and has built a loyal following with a steady share of the Republican primary electorate. But the breadth of his unpopularity raises significant questions about how he could stitch together enough support in the general election to win the White House.

It also underscores the trouble he may still face in the Republican race, which appears headed to a contested convention where party insiders would have their say about who will represent the GOP in the fall campaign.

“He’s at risk of having the nomination denied to him because grass-roots party activists fear he’s so widely disliked that he can’t possible win,” said Ari Fleischer, a former adviser to President George W. Bush.

Beyond their generally negative perception of Trump, large majorities also said they would not describe him as civil, compassionate or likable. On nearly all of these measures, Trump fared worse than his remaining Democratic or Republican rivals.

Not that voters have all that much love for those rivals. But their negative perceptions don’t match the depth of the distaste for Trump. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is seeking to catch Trump in the Republican delegate count, is viewed unfavorably by 59 percent, while 55 percent have negative views of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Another problem for Trump is that his public perception seems to be getting worse. The number of Americans who view him unfavorably has risen more than 10 percentage points since mid-February, a two-month stretch that has included some of his biggest primary victories but also an array of stumbles that suggested difficulties with his campaign organization and a lack of policy depth.

A survey conducted by Gallup in January found Trump’s unfavorable rating, then at 60 percent in the their polling, was already at a record high level for any major party nominee in their organization’s polling since the 1990′s.

Candi Edie, a registered Republican from Arroyo Grande, California, is among those whose views on Trump have grown more negative.

“At first, I thought he was great. He was bringing out a lot of issues that weren’t ever said, they were taboo,” Edie said. Now the 64-year-old feels Trump’s early comments masked the fact that he’s “such a bigot.”

“I don’t know if he’s lost it or what,” she said. “He’s not acting presidential.”Trump’s unpopularity could provide an opening for Cruz, though he is loathed by many of his Senate colleagues and other party leaders. After a big win Tuesday in Wisconsin, Cruz is angling to overtake Trump at the July GOP convention.

Clinton’s campaign believes Trump’s sky-high unfavorable ratings could offset some questions voters have about her own character, and perhaps even give her a chance to peel off some Republicans who can’t stomach a vote for the real estate mogul.

Andrew Glaves, a “hard core” Republican from Bothell, Washington, said he might have to side with Clinton if Trump becomes the nominee, even though she’s out of step with his views on gun rights, his top election issue.

“I’d be willing to take that as opposed to doing so much harm to the country’s reputation,” said Glaves, 29.

More than 60 percent of all registered voters and 31 percent of Republicans said they definitely would not vote for Trump in the general election.

One group that is still with him includes those who describe themselves as both Republicans and supporters of the tea party movement. Sixty-eight percent of them have a favorable view.

Pennsylvania Republican Robert Paradis plans to vote for Trump in his state’s primary this month. The 76-year-old said that while Trump’s uneven temperament makes him cringe “all the time,” he’s hopeful the front-runner’s bluntness can shake up Washington.

“He’s not a politician; he says it the way he feels it,” Paradis said.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Follow Julie Pace and Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and http://twitter.com/EL_Swan

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: About half of Americans confident in tap water

Only about half of Americans are very confident in the safety of their tap water, and a majority think lead contamination of the tap water in Flint, Michigan, indicates a more widespread problem, rather than an isolated problem. Lower-income Americans and those from minority groups are especially likely to worry about their water being contaminated, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Other findings include:

WATER CONFIDENCE

 Just under half of Americans say they’re extremely or very confident in the safety of their own tap water, while another third are moderately confident and 18 percent are not confident at all.

Whites (54 percent) are significantly more likely than blacks (40 percent) or Hispanics (28 percent) to be very confident in their tap water being safe. Six in 10 people living in households making more than $100,000 a year, but less than 4 in 10 of those making less than $50,000 a year, are very confident in the safety of their water.

More than half of Americans say that Flint’s contamination is a sign of a more widespread problem, while about 4 in 10 say it’s an isolated incident. But relatively few — 21 percent — say they’re paying close attention to news about the situation in Flint; 38 percent say they’re following somewhat closely and 38 percent aren’t following closely.

Blacks are significantly more likely than whites to think it’s a sign of a more widespread problem, and 32 percent of them are following the story very closely, compared with 20 percent of Hispanics and 19 percent of whites.

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WATER CONSUMPTION

Only about a third of Americans say they usually drink straight tap water at home, while another third drink filtered tap water and the remaining third drink bottled water.

About 4 in 10 whites, but less than 2 in 10 African-Americans or Hispanics, say they drink straight tap water at home. Just over half of blacks and 4 in 10 Hispanics drink bottled water at home, compared to only a quarter of whites.

Just four in 10 whites, but 6 in 10 non-whites say concerns about contamination are a major factor in their decision to drink bottled or filtered water.

Six in 10 Americans in households making less than $50,000 a year, less than half of those making between $50,000 to $100,000, and just 4 in 10 of those making $100,000 cite concerns about contamination as reasons for not drinking tap water.

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GOVERNMENT’S ROLE

Half of Americans say the federal government should do more to ensure safe drinking water, while 40 percent say its involvement is about right and 7 percent think it should be doing less.

Blacks (69 percent) and Hispanics (62 percent) are more likely than whites (44 percent) to want more federal government involvement.

Those in households making less than $50,000 are more likely than those making more than $100,000 to say the federal government should do more, 57 percent to 40 percent. Those living in urban areas (60 percent) are more likely than those in suburban (50 percent) or rural areas (44 percent) to want more federal government involvement.

Democrats (66 percent) are more likely than independents (50 percent) and Republicans (33 percent) to want the federal government to do more. Among Republicans, 51 percent say the current level of involvement is about right.

When it comes to local government making the right decisions to ensure safe tap water, those in households making more than $100,000 are more likely than those making less than $50,000 to trust it a lot to handle the issue, 38 percent to 18 percent. Whites are more likely than nonwhites to have a lot of trust in local government, 30 percent to 23 percent. Democrats and Republicans are about equally likely to trust their local government.

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POLL METHOD

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults was conducted online Feb. 11-15, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Outside money more potent issue than gender in 2016
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton could be the nation’s first female president. Bernie Sanders warns of the role of super PACs in politics. While the two themes have become a big part of their primary contest, Americans view the issues very differently.

Nineteen percent of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate if the person is a woman, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, while 64 percent say a candidate’s gender has no bearing on their vote.

In a sign of Sanders’ potent message on political money, the poll finds that 46 percent say they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who doesn’t want outside groups supporting his or her campaign. Only 13 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate like that and 38 percent says it makes no difference.

 Sanders notes his opposition to super PACs at every event and rails against the influence of “millionaires and billionaires” in the political system. His robust online fundraising operation has drawn more than 4 million contributions since last spring and his average donation of $27 is so well-known among his supporters they often shout out the number when he talks about it during rallies.
 Clinton is more overt about her attempt to break the glass ceiling compared to her 2008 presidential campaign, when she emphasized her experience and toughness. She often tells audiences that she’s not asking for their vote “simply because I’m a woman” but because she would bring the views and perspective of a woman to the White House, pointing to the deal-making bipartisan work by female senators as an example of what it might offer to the country.

“Hillary Clinton certainly doesn’t expect any woman to vote for her because she’s a woman. She wants people to vote for her because she’s going to make a difference in their lives,” said Clinton’s chief strategist, Joel Benenson, during an appearance Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute.

The poll suggested that as Clinton navigates the primary against Sanders, she cannot rely heavily on her potential to become the first woman to win the White House. In the first three contests, Sanders has won an overwhelming support among young voters, including women, while Clinton has generated enthusiasm among older voters, including women from the Baby Boomer generation.

Among Democrats, the poll showed that 28 percent said they’re more likely to vote for a female president, including 12 percent who said they’re much more likely to do so. But about 64 percent of Democrats said it made no difference. The poll also found that women were not significantly more likely than men to say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who is a woman.

“There are other issues — qualifications, experience. That’s my point of view at this point,” said Maria Valdez-Fisher, 70, a poll respondent from Brownsville, Texas, who said she is volunteering for Clinton’s campaign ahead of the state’s March 1 primary. Citing the importance of electability, Valdez-Fisher said, “I believe she’s the only one who can beat a Republican as opposed to Bernie.”

For Sanders, his anti-establishment message has touched a nerve at a time when many voters are wary of special interests and the influence of Wall Street. Among Democrats, 42 percent said that refusing outside groups’ support is a positive and 17 percent considered it to be a negative.

The poll also showed businessman Donald Trump’s staying power, as 56 percent of Republicans surveyed said a candidate’s decision to refuse the support of outside groups would make them more likely to vote for that candidate. Trump has repeatedly argued that his vast wealth allows him to self-fund his campaign and not be beholden to outside interests. The poll found just 8 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for a candidate.

Joe Barreiro, 61, a Democrat from Joliet, Illinois, said he was leaning toward Sanders in his state’s primary next month in part because the Vermont senator has shunned outside money.

“It’s out of hand because the amount of the money being spent on elections is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s not a quid pro quo but there are obvious influences when you supply that kind of money to a candidate.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults was conducted online Feb. 11-15, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Support shaky for Sanders ‘Medicare for all’

WASHINGTON (AP) — At first blush, many Americans like the idea of “Medicare for all,” the government-run health system that’s a rallying cry for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

But mention some of the trade-offs — from higher taxes to giving up employer coverage — and support starts to shrivel.

That’s the key insight from an Associated Press-GfK poll released Thursday. The survey also found that people’s initial impressions of Sanders’ single-payer plan are more favorable than their views of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

A slim plurality of 39 percent supports replacing the private health insurance system with a single government-run, taxpayer-funded plan that would cover medical, dental, vision and long-term care, with 33 percent opposed. Only 26 percent say they support Obama’s hard-won health care law.

Yet it’s only like an air kiss for “Berniecare.”

Asked whether they would continue to support Sanders’ plan if their own taxes went up, under a third of initial supporters of the plan would keep backing it. About 4 out of 10 flipped to opposition.

About the same share of initial backers would ditch single-payer if it meant that people had to give up employer coverage. Twenty-eight percent would continue to support it.

Higher taxes and an end to employer coverage are both a given under the Sanders plan, which would replace private coverage with a taxpayer-funded program, while also offering more generous benefits such as no deductibles and no copayments, as well as coverage for long-term care.

“That’s pie in the sky,” said Patricia Combs, a retired junior-high math teacher from Springboro, Ohio. “It sounds really good, but I don’t think it’s attainable … people would complain about their taxes being raised.”

Elizabeth Medina of Chicago, an office manager not currently working, said she worries that quality would slip.

“Overall it sounds terrific,” she said. “Yeah! Let’s go for it! But Europe and Canada have their problems with the single-payer system … it’s subpar.”

Such second thoughts over far-reaching policy proposals are common, said Robert Blendon of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who tracks public opinion on health care.

For example, a “flat tax” may sound appealingly simple as millions of people assemble their W-2 forms, 1099s, and lately those new health insurance forms for the annual tax-filing ritual. But it gets tricky for flat-tax advocates when they have to decide which popular tax deductions to eliminate and which to keep.

“People say they believe in a principle, but when you describe the policy, it often loses support because they don’t like that there are side effects,” said Blendon.

The poll found increasing doubts about single-payer health care when other potential consequences are considered, such as slower availability of new drugs and treatments, and longer waits for non-emergency services.

Unlike higher taxes and having to give up employer coverage, those are not automatic consequences of converting to a government-run system. But such concerns would surely be raised as a President Sanders tried to lead the “political revolution” he promises.

The poll found that 51 percent of initial single-payer backers would switch to opposition if it took longer for new drugs and treatments to become available. Only 14 percent would continue to support the plan. Such an outcome could happen if drugmakers were required to prove that new medications are therapeutically superior to existing ones. The current standard is that new drugs be safe and effective.

Additionally, 47 percent of initial supporters would reconsider if “Medicare for all” meant longer wait times for non-emergency medical services. That could happen if budget-conscious administrators encouraged doctors and hospitals to be parsimonious in using high-tech imaging. Only 18 percent of poll respondents would continue to support the plan in that case.

Overall, the poll found that health care remains a top issue for Americans, with three-fourths calling it extremely crucial or very important. Health care ranked behind the economy but ahead of foreign policy concerns as well as domestic issues like income inequality.

Memo to those following the Republican presidential primary: Most people doubt that “Obamacare” will be repealed even if the GOP wins the White House.

Forty-nine percent say the Affordable Care Act will be kept in place with changes, whether major or minor. Another 6 percent say a Republican president will not be able to make any changes to Obama’s law.

“A lot of people who couldn’t have health care before now have health care, so I don’t think you are going to be able to just turn around and strip all those people of their health care,” said Lillian Duren, a recently retired psychiatric emergency nurse from Brooklyn, New York. “You need to fix what doesn’t work and keep moving.”

The Republican presidential candidates have promised to repeal the health law, but they haven’t detailed how they would replace it.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults was conducted online Feb. 11-15, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Voters show little interest in Bloomberg bid

By JONATHAN LEMIRE and EMILY SWANSON
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — By wide margins, Americans of all ideologies say they have no interest in voting former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the White House, suggesting that the billionaire media mogul would have significant headwinds should he mount a third-party bid for president.

Just 7 percent of registered voters say they’d definitely vote for him, while 29 percent say they’d consider it, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

“Isn’t he the one who wanted to restrict the size of soda drinks?” asked Patricia Kowal, a 66-year-old Democrat who works on an assembly line and lives in Lublin, Wisconsin. “I think that’s intruding on people’s personal choices. It’s none of the government’s business.” A court blocked Bloomberg’s attempt to ban supersize takeout soda in 2014.

Six in 10 Democrats and Republicans alike say they would not consider voting for Bloomberg in a general election, according to the poll. The total saying they wouldn’t vote for him is the highest level for any candidate in the field.

But the survey also suggests that a Bloomberg candidacy could not be merely shrugged off by the two parties.

With more than one-third at least open to backing him even before he’s started, Bloomberg may have the potential to become a spoiler in a close fall election.

But a President Bloomberg?

Opposition to Bloomberg’s possible candidacy is nearly uniform across the political spectrum, as 61 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters and 63 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say they wouldn’t vote for him.

Bloomberg has indicated that he’ll decide next month whether to jump in the race. His aides say the rise of the parties’ fringes has opened a centrist, pragmatic path that the fiscal conservative and social liberal could fill, but that he would only try if he saw a reasonable chance to win. One of the richest people in the United States, Bloomberg has decried the 2016 campaign as “a race to the extremes” and suggested he might run if Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led the Democratic field and either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz led the Republicans.

But more than half of the self-identified moderates in each party – and half of independents who don’t lean toward either party – won’t consider backing Bloomberg, the poll found. Some surveyed were quick to rule him out despite only knowing about a few of his signature policy initiatives.

“I like the fact that he’s not a rabble-rouser,” said Hal Daume, 29, a Republican from Watchung, New Jersey, who admired Bloomberg’s 12 years as mayor and said he would support him. “He’s a quiet guy who gets the job done. I trust him and respect his principles.”

Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, oversaw a renaissance in New York, as crime plummeted and property values soared, and he’s become a leading advocate on climate change and gun control. His critics condemn his ties to Wall Street.

Mark Corbin, who describes himself as a moderate Democrat and lives in suburban Philadelphia, seems to fit the profile of a potential Bloomberg voter. But he said he’s “not a big fan of third-party candidates because they are a waste of time.”

“I’d be afraid he’d take away enough votes from the Democrats to let the Republicans win,” said Corbin, a 58-year-old business administrator.

Just 16 percent of voters polled say that Bloomberg represents their positions on the issues they care about very or even somewhat well.

But Bloomberg’s own pollster said he believes the findings “would be a good starting point” for a possible campaign. “This says that 36 percent of voters would consider voting for him before he has announced as a candidate or done anything resembling campaigning,” said Douglas Schoen. “That seems like a very reasonable place to begin.”

The AP poll found that 44 percent of voters still say they don’t know much about Bloomberg, which Schoen believes shows room for his support to grow.

But those voters who do say they know him aren’t enamored with him, according to the poll. Just 20 percent say they have a favorable opinion of him, while 34 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Democratic voters look at him more favorably (25 percent do) than Republicans do (16 percent).

Bloomberg has instructed aides to research previous third-party runs and is said to be willing to spend up to $1 billion of his own fortune, estimated to be about $37 billion, to finance his campaign and potentially blanket the airwaves with ads that could boost his numbers.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults was conducted online Feb. 11-15, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first randomly selected using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

Swanson reported from Washington.

Follow Jonathan Lemire and Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/JonLemire and http://twitter.com/EL-Swan


AP Poll: GOP voters say Donald Trump can win in November

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump has emerged as the front-runner for the GOP nomination by winning over roughly a third of Republicans in the early voting states and in preference polls, packing his rallies with men and women, evangelical Christians and military veterans, blue-collar workers and wealthy retirees.

His critics have argued for months he’ll never be able to grow that wide-but-only-so-deep coalition by clashing with Pope Francis, attacking former President George W. Bush and skipping debates like he did once in Iowa. His negatives, they say, are just too high.

But a new AP-GfK poll finds registered Republicans and GOP-leaning voters put Trump at the top of the still-unwieldy GOP field when it comes to which candidate fits best with their stand on the issues. They give Trump the best marks for competence and decisiveness.
 Far more Republicans than not say they’d vote for Trump in the general election, and 86 percent of Republican voters think he can win in November — giving him a 15 percentage point advantage over his nearest rival.
 If the number of Republican candidates shrinks as expected after Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses and on Super Tuesday on March 1, the Trump coalition, it would appear, has plenty of room to grow.

“He understands what the problems are and he conveys that in a way that attracts blacks, whites and Democrats and Jews and Christians and independents and a lot of conservatives and a lot of evangelicals,” said Ed McMullen, a Trump co-chairman in South Carolina. “When you really assess the base of who’s out there for Mr. Trump and why it’s there, it’s there because he’s got the message that they’re looking for.”

Predictions of Trump’s inevitable political demise have arrived almost daily since the brash real estate mogul jumped into the White House race. They came again after last weekend’s GOP debate, when Trump aggressively went after Bush as a president who failed to protect the country from terrorism. “The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush,” he said. “He kept us safe? That is not safe.”

Barry Wynn, a national fundraising leader for Bush’s brother, Trump rival Jeb Bush, said the moment “crystallized that if you’re for Trump, you’re still for Trump.”

“But it also raised negatives among everybody else,” he said. “Eventually you have to pay for that.”

Indeed, only 42 percent of Republicans consider Trump likable and only 32 percent consider him compassionate. The AP-GfK poll found Trump and Jeb Bush are nearly tied as the candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings within their own party, with only 4 in 10 GOP voters seeing Trump in a positive light.

By comparison, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio leads the field in terms of favorability and likability. But he’s yet to come close to the top of the pack, perhaps because those same voters put “likability” at the bottom of their list of priorities, with just half of GOP respondents calling it important.

Competence and decisiveness, the measures on which Trump dominates, were important to more than 9 out of 10 Republican voters.

Joan Brewer, a 70-year-old retiree from Garden City, South Carolina, is an evangelical Christian voter leaning toward casting her ballot on Saturday for Trump. She acknowledged “that mouth may get him into trouble,” but she may be willing to look past his penchant for controversy to get the leader she thinks the country needs.

“This country is in trouble,” Brewer said. “I want it to be Trump. We need it to be Trump.”

McMullen rejected the impression that Trump’s supporters are only a bunch of “lower-income, angry white men” and “rednecks,” pointing to a series of campaign events in recent days at exclusive golf resorts and gated communities in South Carolina that attracted wealthy retirees and business leaders.

“The moment he started having events that brought 5,000 or 10,000 people in a room, you had African-Americans, you had independents,” he said. “I mean, it was always 50-50 men-women.”

While the AP-GfK poll suggests Trump can broaden his support to win the nomination, it also suggests his coalition has some limits.

Among all registered voters nationally, 6 in 10 say they have an unfavorable opinion of Trump and 54 percent say they wouldn’t even consider voting for him in a general election. Perhaps most troubling for Trump is that he finishes at the bottom of the GOP field among Americans who are Hispanic, with just 16 percent viewing him favorably.

Those numbers will almost surely have to improve for Trump to be a competitive general election candidate. Hispanic voters are expected to grow to close to 12 percent of the electorate in November.

Trump’s most ardent backers, however, have faith he will expand his appeal.

“I don’t think he represents a particular side of the aisle,” said Susan Simon, a resident of the Sun City retirement community in Bluffton, South Carolina, and a Democrat who intends to vote for Trump on Saturday. “I hope he can get rid of that gridlock and get things accomplished and not fighting that it has to be a Republican win or a Democratic win. It should be a U.S.A. win.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults, including 345 Republican or Republican leaning registered voters, was conducted online Feb. 11-15, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, and is plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for Republican voters.

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Associated Press news survey specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report from Washington.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Voters increasingly see Sanders as electable
WASHINGTON (AP) — The more Democrats learn about Bernie Sanders, the more they appear to like him.

A greater percentage of Democratic registered voters view the Vermont senator as likable, honest, competent and compassionate than they did just two months ago, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Seventy-two percent now believe he could win the general election, a 21 percentage point increase from the last time the survey was conducted in December.

The findings underscore the challenge facing Hillary Clinton as she enters the Democratic contest’s pivotal spring stretch, when primaries across the country mean that many of the party’s voters will finally get their say on her candidacy.

 Clinton’s campaign has argued that as voters learned more about his record, Sanders will begin to lose support. Instead, it seems that as Sanders has gotten more scrutiny, support for him has only grown. While Clinton continues to be the Democratic candidate who’s most well-liked within her own party, Sanders is gaining on her.

Woodrow Benford, 58, who lives outside Minneapolis, says he didn’t know much about Sanders before he announced his presidential bid, but now Benford plans to caucus for him on March 1.

“Some changes need to be made, some major changes — he’s addressing them,” he said. “I like Hillary Clinton; don’t get me wrong. But she’d never say she’s going to break up the big banks.”

Though Sanders is gaining ground with Democrat voters, Clinton maintains a commanding lock on the party’s leadership. An Associated Press survey of superdelegates, who are influential in picking the nominee, found that 449 of the party insiders back Clinton, while only 19 support Sanders.

If they continue to back Clinton overwhelmingly — they can change their minds— Sanders would have to win the remaining primary contests by a landslide to catch up.

Seventy-four percent of Democratic registered voters say they have a favorable view of Clinton, compared with 64 percent who say the same of Sanders. That’s a 10-point increase for Sanders from December, when 54 percent of Democratic registered voters held a favorable opinion of him.

But 16 percent of Democratic registered voters still say they don’t yet know enough about Sanders to form an opinion. “I know a lot of my Democratic friends are telling me, ‘Feel the Bern,’ but I can’t say that I like him or dislike him,” said Mona Lamberson, 59, of North Philadelphia. “He’s kind of new to the game.”

Since December, Sanders has gained on other measures, too. Six in 10 say he’s at least somewhat decisive, after half said so in the earlier poll. And 64 percent call him competent, after 55 percent said so in December.

Sanders is also more likely to be viewed as very or somewhat honest than he was in December, 64 percent to 56 percent. On that issue, he has a nine percentage point edge over Clinton, who’s viewed as honest by 55 percent of Democrats.

Sanders is the only candidate in either party who’s viewed as somewhat or very compassionate, honest and likable by at least half of all registered voters, and has a significant advantage over Clinton among all voters on each of those measures. Just 30 percent of all voters consider Clinton honest.

“I was going to bite my tongue and vote for Hillary, but I never really trusted her,” said Robert Stone, a 59-year-old from Hilton Head, South Carolina, who already cast an absentee ballot for Sanders. “Every time she opens her mouth, I can’t help but think she’s lying about something.”

But the poll also finds that Clinton maintains a variety of advantages over Sanders. Nine in 10 Democratic registered voters say they think she could win a general election, a 16-point margin over Sanders. She has a 13-point advantage on being viewed as at least somewhat decisive, and a 15-point advantage on being viewed as competent.

Democratic voters are slightly more likely to say that Clinton represents their positions on the issues very or somewhat well than say the same about Sanders, 73 percent to 63 percent. Minority and women voters appeared more likely to describe her as likable and inspiring.

“He’s a very nice boy, but I think it’s all pie in the sky, what he has to offer,” said Renee Gold, 83, of Sarasota, Florida. “Clinton is strong, I admire her and I think if she were to be elected, it would be a good presidency.”

Clinton and Sanders are each viewed positively by about 4 in 10 registered voters overall. But while all registered voters are about evenly divided in their opinions of Sanders, more than half have an unfavorable view of Clinton.

Still, 52 percent of registered voters say they would at least consider voting for each Democrat in a general election, putting them at least slightly higher than every Republican candidate but Marco Rubio on that measure.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults, including 389 Democratic or Democratic-leaning registered voters, was conducted online Feb. 11-15, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, and is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Democratic voters.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans blame politics for negative outlook

By EMILY SWANSON

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s almost a given these days that most Americans are upset about the direction of the country. But it’s not always clear what’s driving that sentiment.

According to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, Americans express a wide variety of reasons why they’re not too keen on the way things in the country are going, but one stands out above the rest: dissatisfaction with politics and how the government is working.

The survey, conducted in December, asked Americans to express in their own words why they think things in the country are on the right or wrong track. Some things to know about what Americans think about the direction of the country from the AP-GfK poll:

 POLITICS DRIVING NEGATIVE VIEWS

Negative sentiments about the direction of the country appear disproportionately driven by frustration with politics and the political system, the AP-GfK poll finds. Forty-one percent of all those who said the country is heading in the wrong direction, including 51 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats, listed at least one political reason for their negative outlook, far more than listed an economic (14 percent) or foreign policy (17 percent) reason.

Fifteen percent of Americans named President Barack Obama as a reason for the country’s negative direction, making the president the single most-mentioned reason. Nearly 3 in 10 Republicans mentioned Obama.

An additional 6 percent of Americans cited poor leadership in general. Five percent of all respondents mentioned the government or politicians more generally. And there was political finger-pointing: 6 percent of Democrats named Republicans or conservatives as a reason for the country’s negative direction; 6 percent of Republicans blamed Democrats or liberals other than the president.

The top nonpolitical reason listed by Americans who said the country is headed in the wrong direction was terrorism or radical Islam, cited by 11 percent overall — 14 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats.

NEGATIVE VIEWS ON THE RISE

For years, a large majority of the American public has said the country is headed in the wrong direction. In the December AP-GfK poll, 74 percent said so, up from 63 percent who thought that in October.

There’s a longstanding political divide on this matter. In the December poll, 9 in 10 Republicans say the country is headed in the wrong direction, while fewer than than 6 in 10 Democrats say the same. Among independents, 8 in 10 say so. That divide has persisted throughout Obama’s presidency, providing further evidence for dissatisfaction with politics shaping views about the country’s direction.

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ECONOMY TOPS FOR RIGHT DIRECTION

For the 26 percent of Americans who feel good about the way things are going, the biggest driving force behind that appears to be the economy, the AP-GfK survey finds. Four in 10 cited the economy or jobs. Still, 17 percent mentioned political reasons for thinking the country is headed in the right direction, too — 7 percent credited the president.

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PERSONAL OUTLOOKS POSITIVE

While few see the country as on the right track, a vast majority of Americans —76 percent — say things are headed in the right direction for themselves and their families. Just 22 percent say things are headed in the wrong direction. On this, there’s no political divide — large majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents like how things are going in their own lives.

For Americans saying things are going well for them personally, the top reasons are financial security, listed by 18 percent, jobs (17 percent), family or love (13 percent) and religious reasons (10 percent).

Seven percent mentioned personal responsibility, while 6 percent mentioned hard work.

For those saying things aren’t going so well for them, the top reason was personal finances or jobs. Nine percent blamed politics for feeling negative about the direction of their own lives.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults was conducted online Dec. 3-7, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-Times Square Poll: Shootings Weighed on Americans in 2015
By Verena Dobnik, Associated Press
Mass shootings and attacks weighed heavily on the minds of Americans in 2015, according to a new poll that found most believe this year was worse for the world than last year.A look at the key findings of The Associated Press-Times Square Alliance poll:

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PREOCCUPIED BY MASS SHOOTINGS

Americans say the most important events of 2015 were a string of mass shootings, including the attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Paris, plus Islamic State group atrocities.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled say this year was worse than the last year for the world as a whole, up from the 38 percent asked that question a year ago. Only 10 percent believe 2015 was a better year than 2014, while 32 percent think there wasn’t much difference.

Americans also are much less likely than they were a year ago to believe that the current year was better for the United States — only 17 percent compared with 30 percent a year ago. Thirty-seven percent think this year was worse for the country than last year, while 44 percent don’t think there was much difference.

On a personal level, fewer than a third (29 percent) believe 2015 was better for them than 2014, while 21 percent feel it was worse, compared with 15 percent in 2014.

Interviewed separately from the poll, Jason Pruitt, a 43-year-old corporate pilot from the Detroit area, said security concerns were a factor in deciding whether to take his wife and daughter along on a Christmas trip to New York.

“We were thinking about not coming this year, because of everything that’s going on,” Pruitt said. But they went ahead “because when you change your life, the terrorists win.”

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THREE EVENTS SHARE THE TOP SPOT

Of those polled, 68 percent listed mass shootings in the U.S. as very or extremely important news events this year, including the one in San Bernardino that heightened fears of domestic terrorism, plus shootings in Charleston, South Carolina; Roseburg, Oregon; and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Close behind, at 64 percent, were the Paris attacks that ushered in 2015, targeting Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish market, then the Bataclan concert hall and other city sites in November.

And third, at 63 percent, came the Islamic State group’s various far-flung atrocities.

Commenting on the completed poll was 32-year-old J.P. Fury, working in a food truck in Times Square.

“At this point, I’m numb to all of it,” he said. “This is nothing new. Every week there’s a new shooting somewhere in America, and there’s a new terrorist attack somewhere around the world.”

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OTHER ISSUES

Domestically, 44 percent of those polled rate as extremely or very important the deaths of blacks in encounters with police that sparked “Black Lives Matter” protests in Baltimore and Chicago.

Another 44 percent rate the deal reached to curtail Iran’s nuclear program as important, and nearly as many (42 percent) Europe’s migrant crisis.

Only 40 percent said the presidential race was important to them, with the Paris climate change conference right behind (at 38 percent), followed by the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage (36 percent) and the Cuban-U.S. thaw (30 percent).

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RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR

Most Americans plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve either at home (48 percent) or at the home of a friend or family member (20 percent). Nine percent plan to be at a bar, restaurant or organized event, while just under a quarter (22 percent) don’t plan to celebrate at all.

A majority of Americans (56 percent) will watch the New Year’s Eve events in Times Square, and 95 percent of those will see it on TV.

Those findings were similar to those of the past two years.

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THE YEAR IN POP CULTURE

No single pop culture event of 2015 stands out, with fewer than four in 10 Americans rating any as memorable.

The eagerly awaited “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was memorable only to 37 percent of those polled, and forgettable to 34 percent.

Bill Cosby’s legal woes were memorable to 36 percent; forgettable to 33 percent.

Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner, with a highly orchestrated publicity campaign, was forgettable to 52 percent, and Taylor Swift’s world tour to 55 percent.

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METHODOLOGY

The AP-Times Square Alliance Poll of 1,020 adults was conducted online Dec. 11-13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll is a cooperative effort between AP and the organizers of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration, the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment. The Alliance is a nonprofit group that seeks to promote Times Square, and Countdown Entertainment represents the owners of One Times Square and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Support for legal abortion at highest level in 2 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Support for legal abortion in the U.S. has edged up to its highest level in the past two years, with an Associated Press-GfK poll showing an apparent increase in support among Democrats and Republicans alike over the last year.

Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — now think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 51 percent who said so at the beginning of the year, according to the AP-GfK survey. It was conducted after three people were killed last month in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

While support for legal abortion edged up to 40 percent among Republicans in this month’s poll, from 35 percent in January, the survey found that the GOP remains deeply divided on the issue: Seven in 10 conservative Republicans said they want abortion to be illegal in most or all cases; six in 10 moderate and liberal Republicans said the opposite.

 Count 55-year-old Victor Remdt, of Gurnee, Illinois, among the conservatives who think abortion should be illegal in most cases. He’s adopted, and says he “wouldn’t be here talking” if his birth mother had opted for abortion rather than adoption. Remdt, who’s looking for work as a commercial driver, said he’d like to see abortion laws become more restrictive but adds that he’s not a one-issue voter on the matter.
 John Burk, a conservative Republican from Houston, Texas, is among those whose position on abortion is somewhere in the middle. He reasons that banning the procedure would only lead to “back-alley abortions.” But he’s open to restrictions such as parental notification requirements and a ban on late-term abortions.

Burk, a 59-year-old computer programmer, said he tracks his beliefs on the issue to his libertarian leanings and the fact that he’s not religious. He doesn’t see the nation coming to a resolution on the divisive issue any time soon, saying hard-liners on both sides of the question are entrenched and “they’re never going to change.”

Among Democrats, 76 percent of poll respondents now think abortion should be legal all or most of the time, up slightly from 69 percent in January.

Independents are more evenly split, with 54 percent saying abortion should be legal all or most of the time, edging up from 43 percent in January.

For Larry Wiggins, who describes himself as a liberal Democrat from Henderson, North Carolina, legal access to abortion should be — but isn’t — a settled matter.

“A woman has the right to decide what she wants to do with her body,” he said flatly. “I don’t think the government has the right to interfere.”

Nefertiti Durant, a 45-year-old independent voter from Columbia, Maryland, sees abortion as more complex matter, calling it “kind of a Catch-22.” She thinks a woman should have the right to choose abortion but she’s “not so keen on the fact that just anybody can go and have an abortion.” She worries that young people may not understand the effects of the procedure, and the “deep issues” that go along with it.

Still, she said, abortion is legal and “let’s just leave it at that. … I don’t think it’s a matter of discussion.”

It undoubtedly will be up for discussion, though, in a presidential election year. All of the Republican presidential candidates say they favor restricting abortion rights. The Democratic candidates support broad abortion rights.

Interest in the issue picked up this year after anti-abortion activists began releasing undercover videos they said showed Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs. Planned Parenthood said any payments were legally permitted reimbursements for the costs of donating organs to researchers, and it has since stopped accepting even that money. Republicans have sought to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and several GOP-governed states have tried to block Medicaid funding to the organization.

Overall, the poll found, 45 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, and 30 percent have an unfavorable opinion. A quarter said they don’t know enough about the organization to say.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults was conducted online Dec. 3-7, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Nancy Benac and Emily Swanson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac and http://www.twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: Tough immigration plans not a must for GOPers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Retired postal clerk Jerry Wilson likes what he hears from GOP presidential hopefuls about overturning President Barack Obama’s executive order easing deportation policies against people in the U.S. illegally.

But he’ll choose a Republican presidential nominee based on other issues — keeping American companies from moving overseas, for one. Keeping would-be attackers out of the country, for another.

“America comes first when you’re the president of the United States,” the Batavia, Ohio, resident, 67, said. “You do everything you can to keep America safe. What about migrants, people who are already here illegally? That’s not a do-or-die issue to me.”

For all of the ferocity and double-speak at the GOP debate over immigration reform, most Republicans like Wilson say the issue isn’t a decisive factor in their vote for president. Even among conservative Republicans, more than half — 56 percent — say they either prefer a candidate who would keep Obama’s immigration action in place or that they can imagine voting for a Republican presidential hopeful who would.

 The survey shows that Obama’s immigration actions last year, which allowed some immigrants to apply for temporary legal status, are a particular sticking point for Republicans. Seventy-three percent of them say they prefer to support the candidate who would undo those steps taken by this president, who is deeply unpopular within their party.

More broadly, more Americans — regardless of their political affiliation — favor than oppose a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are in the United States illegally, the poll shows. Even among Republicans, — 4 in 10 of whom oppose making citizenship an option for people in the country illegally, it doesn’t seem to be a make-or-break issue in their choice for president. Four in 10 conservative Republicans and 3 in 10 tea party Republicans favor a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country illegally.

Notably, the results from the Dec. 3 through Dec. 7 survey are unchanged since the questions were last asked in April — even after months of strong rhetoric by Republican presidential candidates, including front-runner Donald Trump, who proposes deporting the 11.5 million people in the country illegally.

The survey results are powerful data points for the GOP candidates with little more than six weeks to go before the first votes are cast in Iowa. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both children of Cuban immigrants, are locked in an extraordinary battle for second place in the nomination fight, in large part over their positions on immigration. Rubio’s rivals had used his 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill to cast him as a supporter of a path to citizenship for those here illegally. He hasn’t backed off that idea but has abandoned the notion of comprehensive reform on the complex issue and emphasizes border security first.

Cruz, meanwhile, is casting himself as an opponent to “legalization.” He proposed amendments to Rubio’s bill that would have massively increased legal immigration — but mostly, he says, to try to kill Rubio’s legislation.

While illegal immigration may not be a deal-breaker for Republicans on a national scale, few issues are more hotly contested on the ground in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Some GOP conservatives often lash out at allowing people to stay in the U.S. illegally, producing an environment where Republican candidates like Rubio and Bush have been forced to distance themselves from their own more forgiving policies in the past.

But the poll shows immigration may not be the most pressing issue on Americans’ minds once voting begins in the GOP primary contest.

“No candidate fits everybody’s view,” said Terry Arnell of Tower Lakes, Ill., a retired insurance company manager who right now likes Trump. So, what will be Arnell’s priorities come election day?

“Gun rights. Securing our borders and certainly, securing as much as we can within our borders,” Arnell, 63, said. “I think it’s very important that we secure our borders now. Then, we can worry about the other illegals here.”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults was conducted online Dec. 3-7, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Online:

http://ap-gfkpoll.com


Americans want to get tougher with the Islamic State

WASHINGTON (AP) — After terrorist attacks at home and abroad, more Americans than ever — but still less than half — support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll. A large majority also want a clearer explanation from President Barack Obama about his strategy to defeat the group.

The percentage of Americans who favor deploying U.S. troops to fight IS militants has risen from 31 percent to 42 percent over the past year in AP-GfK polling, although it isn’t clear whether those respondents favor a small contingent or a larger ground force that might engage in another protracted Middle Eastern war. Other national surveys in recent weeks have found similar or greater support for American ground troops.

Obama recently dispatched about 50 special operations forces to coordinate the fight in Syria, adding to the more than 3,000 troops already in Iraq. But he and most other politicians oppose sending a large American contingent to augment the U.S.-led coalition air campaign. Most Republicans running for president have not called for that, either, although Donald Trump recently said he would support 10,000 troops, a figure originally floated by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has pledged to keep American troops out of Syria, saying she would resist sending forces to fight Islamic militants even if there’s another terrorist attack within the U.S.

 

In the poll, 56 percent of Americans said the U.S. military response to the Islamic State group has not gone far enough, up from 46 percent since October 2014.

Six in 10 Republicans, but only about 3 in 10 Democrats or independents, support sending ground troops, the poll showed.

Analysts say the public desire for more action reflects growing anxiety over the Islamic State after its attack in Paris, and the shootings in San Bernardino, California, carried out by a couple apparently inspired by the group. There is also widespread unease about Obama’s strategy, which envisions a long, slow campaign of airstrikes, diplomacy, training, financial sanctions and other measures.

White House officials say Obama recognizes the need to make the case for his strategy. The president gave an Oval Office speech last week, visited the Pentagon Monday and is expected to visit a counterterrorism facility later in the week.

But Obama has pointedly made the case against a U.S. ground invasion. The U.S. military could clear the Islamic State from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, but IS troops would return unless a local ground force was available to keep order, he said Nov, 16, after the attacks in Paris.

“Let’s assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into Syria,” Obama said. “What happens when there’s a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send more troops into there? Or Libya, perhaps? ”

Most interviews for the AP-GfK poll, which was conducted Dec. 3-7, were completed before last Sunday’s Oval Office address, but the survey found the president had an uphill battle to allay Americans’ concerns.

Just 28 percent in the survey said Obama had clearly explained the United States’ goals in fighting the Islamic State, while 68 percent said he had not. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents said the president had not clearly explained the goals, and even among Democrats 51 percent agreed.

Daniel Byman, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, said Obama’s methodical approach is unsatisfying to Americans but they would be even more displeased if the U.S. troops were dying in Syria.

“Sure, right now, Americans are baying for blood, but if three years down the road, the U.S. has 50,000 troops in Iraq and Syria and we’re taking casualties, then American are going to be saying, ‘Why did people do stupid things and put American troops at risk.”

Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, has himself conducted surveys showing some support for U.S. ground troops. But he doesn’t believe the public wants an all-out invasion.

“Iraq syndrome is still hanging there,” he said, referring to a hangover from the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, “and the public doesn’t really think that war is going to solve the ISIS problem.”

One AP poll respondent, Carl Ripperton, a retired executive living near Memphis, Tennessee, said he favored a U.S. invasion if American generals determined that one was needed to defeat the Islamic State.

“It’s gotta be done,” said Ripperton, 76, a National Guard veteran and self-professed political independent. “The bombing doesn’t seem to have done anything. I would think if we just went in there and wiped them out that would take care of it. I mean they might pop up again, but at least we’d take care of this group.”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults was conducted online using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Online: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Republican voters on Trump: no compassion, no problem
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican voters don’t think Donald Trump is likable. They don’t think he’s compassionate. And many don’t consider him particularly honest.

But he’s overwhelmingly viewed as decisive and competent. And that’s what matters most — at least for now — to Republicans.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that 8 in 10 Republican registered voters call Trump very or somewhat decisive. That’s top in the field for the businessman, whose blunt style was featured for years on reality TV. At the same time, it finds much resistance to him from the country at large.

The poll was taken before he called for a ban on Muslims coming into the United States and does not reflect the furor that has turned some leading Republican figures, at least, against him.

“I wouldn’t give him a 10 on the compassionate scale,” said poll respondent Lisa Barker, 55, of Worcester, Massachusetts, an unaffiliated voter who says she’s all in for Trump. “I’d probably put him in the middle. But I love the fact that he’s decisive.”

She’s not alone.

After rocketing to the front of the Republican pack in the 2016 race for president, he’s stayed there for months with a brash approach that has captivated a healthy slice of the GOP electorate.

People frustrated with the status quo appear to love his style — even when his policies draw condemnation and his facts are wrong. Trump drew widespread criticism from within his own party and from leaders around the world this week after calling for the ban on Muslim entry to the United States.

In the new national survey, three-quarters of Republicans said Trump would have a chance of winning the general election if nominated, significantly more than say so of any other GOP candidate.

“Donald Trump is saying what 95 percent of the people of this country, that belong to this country, that were born and raised in this country, feel and think,” said 83-year-old J.W. Stepp, a registered Republican who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Donald Trump is exactly what this country needs,” Stepp said. “He’s probably the most decisive person in the race.”

But the AP-GfK poll also offers cause for long-term concern for such Trump loyalists.

Beyond Republicans, 58 percent of all Americans have an unfavorable view of him. That’s the worst favorable rating of any candidate in either party, a reminder that decisiveness alone may not be enough to help Trump prevail in next fall’s general election if he represents the GOP on the ballot.

Yet he appears to be well-positioned in his party’s nomination contest, which begins with the Iowa caucuses in less than eight weeks. The early voting contests tend to feature the GOP’s most passionate voters, a small but vocal group that has been excited about Trump’s candidacy.

While Trump is considered the most decisive of the five GOP candidates tested, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz earned the next highest mark with 56 percent calling him very or somewhat decisive. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had 53 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 52 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 42 percent.

By contrast, just 31 percent of Republican voters say Trump is at least somewhat compassionate, and 43 percent say he is at least somewhat likable. Carson, who’s been slipping in recent polls, is viewed as most compassionate and likable, with 7 in 10 Republican voters saying each word describes him at least somewhat well.

Unfortunately for Carson, likeability isn’t among the most desired attributes among Republicans in this campaign.

Nine in 10 Republican voters say decisiveness and competence are extremely or very important in a candidate for president in 2016, according to the poll. Just 6 in 10 rate compassion as that important, while only half say it’s important for a candidate to be likable.

Nine in 10 Republican voters also say that honesty is an important quality in a presidential candidate, although they’re split on whether that’s a description that applies to Trump.

Fifty-five percent say “honest” describes him very or somewhat well and 43 percent say it describes him only slightly or not at all. Bush, Rubio and Cruz don’t do much better. Carson, by contrast, is viewed as at least somewhat honest by 66 percent of Republican voters.

Trump has repeatedly made false or dubious assertions, such as his debunked claim to have seen thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the 9/11 attacks. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the Republican electorate, which is deeply skeptical of the media.

Two-thirds of Republican voters believe media coverage is generally biased against Trump, more than say so of the other top candidates. Fifty-four percent say media coverage is biased against Carson, close to half say that about Bush and Cruz, and 40 percent say that about Rubio.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults, including 333 Republican and Republican leaning registered voters, was conducted online Dec. 3-7, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Online: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP Poll: Republicans wary of immigration from Middle East
Dec. 8, 2015 5:09 PM EST

With his call for blocking Muslims from entering the United States, Donald Trump may be tapping into deep concern among Republican voters about allowing Middle Eastern immigrants into the country, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

In particular, a majority of Republicans see a high risk that refugees from Syria will commit acts of religious and political violence in the U.S., the poll finds.

The poll was conducted before Trump made his contentious proposal on Monday, so it does not reflect public opinion about the plan. But it indicates a suspicion of newcomers from the region where Muslims predominate and follows last week’s shootings in San Bernardino, California.

 The AP-GfK survey found widespread antipathy toward immigration from the Middle East, with 54 percent of Americans saying the U.S. takes in too many people from the volatile region. Among Republicans, about three-quarters of respondents held that view, compared with about half of independents and more than a third of Democrats.
 While the latter numbers could point to general election risks for Republicans in taking a hard line against Muslims, there appear to be benefits in the GOP primaries.

Tea party backers, whites and older Americans — all important voting groups in Republican presidential primaries — were more likely to say immigration from the Middle East is too high. Among evangelical Christians, who wield significant power in the kickoff Iowa caucus, 63 percent of respondents held that view.

Officials say the couple who carried out the California attack — a U.S.-born man and Pakistani-born woman — had been radicalized for some time, with the wife pledging her allegiance to the Islamic State group. The killings came just three weeks after Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for attacks across Paris that killed 130, sparking fears about the extremist group’s reach in the West.

Since then, Republican presidential candidates have escalated their rhetoric about Muslims, though Trump’s call for banning them from entering the country crossed a line for most of his rivals and many other Republicans who condemned his proposal as out of step with American values.

Trump’s proposal focused on all Muslims, not just those coming from the Middle East. The GOP front-runner previously called for banning all refugees from Syria, where ISIS has a stronghold. Polls conducted in November found few Americans in favor of an explicit religious test for refugees from Syria — such as giving preference to Syrian Christians — if they are allowed into the United States.

For some Americans already wary of Middle Eastern immigrants, Trump’s proposal could seem like an appropriate next step.

“For now, maybe we have to hold up because we have to figure it out,” said June Toler, a 51-year-old from Evans, Georgia. Toler considers herself an independent but is interested in Trump as well as GOP candidates Ben Carson and Marco Rubio.

Charles Chapman, 75, of Buffalo, New York, wants to go even further, halting all immigration into the U.S. for a year while officials work out plans to ensure no potential terrorists can enter.

“It seems like anyone can walk into the United States,” said Chapman, a Democrat. “The immigration policy needs to be stopped for a while and see what’s going on and then come up with a plan.”

However, several poll respondents who worry about Middle Eastern immigrants said in interviews afterward that Trump’s ban on Muslims goes too far.

“Over the top,” said Matthew Tisdale, a 27-year-old Republican from Metairie, Louisiana. “I don’t believe we should ban everyone who is following the Muslim religion. That would completely take away from our stance on freedom of religion.”

Janice Dillard, 64, from Euclid, Ohio, said that instead of blocking Muslims, the government should focus on improving security screening for those seeking to come. She also believes there should be more focus on keeping people from being radicalized over the Internet, which has become a potent recruiting tool for the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

“I think this has more to do with the Internet than people coming into this country to do something,” Dillard said.

In 2014, the U.S. offered visas to more than 600,000 people from the Middle East, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries where the U.S. also has concerns about terrorism. That’s fewer than the 1.4 million visas granted in 2014 to Mexicans alone.

Republican presidential candidates have raised particular concerns about Syrians seeking to come to the U.S. as refugees. President Barack Obama has said the U.S. will take 10,000 refugees fleeing that country’s civil war next year.

The recent attacks have sparked fears that terrorists could try to sneak into Europe or the U.S. as part of the flow of refugees, although none of the perpetrators appear to have used that strategy. The AP-GfK poll found that 49 percent of Americans — including 70 percent of Republicans — see an extremely or somewhat high risk of Syrian refugees committing acts of religious or political violence in the U.S.

Among Democrats, 3 in 10 hold that view.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults was conducted online Dec. 3-7, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans souring on Obama’s Islamic State plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are souring on President Barack Obama’s approach to fighting the Islamic State, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that also found deep pessimism about U.S. prospects for success in Afghanistan and uncertainty about Obama’s plan to leave thousands of troops there when he leaves office.

More than 6 in 10 now reject Obama’s handling of the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where Obama has been escalating the U.S. military’s involvement in a bid to break a vexing stalemate. Support for his approach has followed a downward trajectory since the U.S. formed its coalition to fight the group in late 2014. Last September, Americans were roughly split, yet disapproval has jumped 8 percentage points just since January.

Those concerns mirror broader trepidation about Obama’s management of foreign policy, which garnered approval from just 40 percent of Americans in the AP-GfK poll. They come as Obama struggles to demonstrate progress advancing U.S. interests in the Middle East, where Obama hoped to disentangle the U.S. military after a decade-plus of war but will likely leave three military conflicts ongoing when his presidency ends in 2017.

Complicating Obama’s efforts to strike the right balance, his critics include both those who feel he’s betrayed his pledge to keep U.S. troops out of combat in Iraq and Syria and those who argue exactly the opposite: that Obama is pursuing half-measures that put U.S. troops at risk but are too paltry to make a decisive difference.

“ISIS is literally laughing at our president,” said Donald Hammond, a retired police officer and Republican from Brooklyn, Ohio. He accused Obama of tying the military’s hands out of concern about potential U.S. casualties. “If we’re going to be committed to the fight, he needs to commit seriously and stop playing patty-cake.”

Patty Watson, a Democrat from Portland, Oregon, saw it differently. “I feel concerned that we’re getting pulled into that quagmire that just seems to never end,” said Watson, 54. She said she felt Obama was doing his best to confront a dangerous group but worries he’s pursuing a strategy in which the U.S. is “the sole force of that resolution.”

The AP-GfK poll was conducted before Obama’s announcement last week that up to 50 U.S. special operations troops will head to northern Syria, the first time the U.S. has openly sent forces into that civil war-wracked country. But it reflected apprehension that has grown measurably over the course of 2015, during which Obama increased the number of troops in Iraq and revamped his approach against IS, including dropping a campaign to train Syrian rebels that had failed miserably.

The Islamic State threat and the proper U.S. response promise to play a major role in the 2016 presidential campaign, in which many of the Republican candidates have called for sending ground troops into Iraq and Syria, and even Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for a U.S.-imposed no-fly zone in Syria. Two-thirds of Americans say the Islamic State threat is a very or extremely important issue, the AP-GfK poll found.

Obama’s approach has drawn flak from both parties in Congress, where lawmakers have argued current U.S. policy in Syria is too limited. Grilled by members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, top U.S. diplomats defended Obama’s policy and pointed to Russia, which has unloaded a barrage of airstrikes in Syria in what the White House deems a misguided attempt to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

“The regime continues to barrel bomb its own citizens with impunity, perhaps even emboldened by Moscow’s help,” Victoria Nuland, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, told Congress on Wednesday.

Concerns about Obama’s strategy overseas resonate deeply when it comes to Afghanistan, where Obama abruptly dropped his plans last month to pull nearly all U.S. forces by end of 2016. Instead, Obama will keep at least 5,500 troops there when he leaves office, hoping to protect fragile gains made over the last 14 years and shore up the fledgling Afghan security forces.

Roughly a third of Americans said they approve of that revamped plan, with one-third opposed and another third neither in favor nor against. Just 1 in 5 say it’s likely or very likely that Afghanistan can maintain a stable, democratic government once the U.S. leaves, and 71 percent predicted history will judge the Afghanistan war as more of a failure than a success.

Jamie Atkins, a 40-year-old Democrat from Easley, South Carolina, said he has mixed feelings about Obama’s overall approach to foreign affairs. But on Afghanistan, his misgivings were clear.

“I disapprove with him sending the troops to Afghanistan,” said Atkins, a disabled former construction worker. “They put their lives in danger, and some are killed in the line of duty.”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, designed to represent the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/


AP-GfK Poll: Clerks must issue gay marriage licenses
WASHINGTON (AP) — Linda Massey opposes gay marriage. But she was incensed last summer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

“If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it,” says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. “That woman,” she said of Davis, “should be out of a job.”

Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.

It’s partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs. But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which: religious freedom, or equality under the law?

The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders. But it’s not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.

Where Davis’s answer was the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom — and she served jail time to back it up — a majority of respondents don’t buy that argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses. That’s a shift since an AP-GfK survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split. Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.

Now, just 41 percent favor an exemption and 56 percent think they should be required to issue the licenses.

That shift was especially stark among Republicans. A majority of them —58 percent — still favor religious exemptions for officials issuing marriage licenses, but that’s down 14 points since 72 percent said so in July.

The timing of the surveys is important, coming during rapid developments in the politics of gay rights and religious freedom.

Public opinion has favored same-sex marriage in recent years and some politicians — President Barack Obama, 2016 presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton and some members of Congress among them — have come around to that view. In June, the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The cultural change has influenced the governing bodies of some of the most conservative religions, including the Catholic Church under Pope Francis and the Mormon Church, which last week called for compromises between protecting religious liberties and prohibiting discrimination. Both institutions are trying to accommodate society’s shifting views while keeping a firm grip internally on their own doctrines against gay marriage and homosexual activity. And both churches steered clear of the appearance of backing Davis. The Vatican said the pope’s brief meeting with her in Washington should not be construed as a sign of support.

Mormon leader Dallin H. Oaks last week told a closed gathering of judges and clergy in Sacramento, California, that when conflicts between religion and law rise and are decided, citizens of a democracy must follow court rulings.

Davis, a Democrat, Apostolic Christian and clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, became the face of religious Americans who bristle at government requirements that conflict with their beliefs, whether those mandates cover gay marriage, contraception or abortion referrals. On June 27 — the day after the high court ruling — Davis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. In September she spent five days in jail for defying a court order to issue the licenses. Affixing her name to the certificate, she wrote in a statement, “would violate my conscience.” After serving her jail sentence, Davis returned to work — but her name no longer appears on marriage licenses for gay couples.

Nick Hawks, a business consultant in Ararat, North Carolina, agrees with Davis.

“We’ve got to decide at some point who’s going to be protected first,” said the father of three boys, 50, who says he’s a Republican-leaning independent. “It doesn’t seem quite fair” to allow a minority such as gay people to “control the policy.”

More generally, the poll offers evidence that Americans remain slightly more likely to say that it’s more important for the government to protect religious liberties than the rights of gays and lesbians when the two come into conflict, 51 percent to 45 percent. But that, too, is a slight shift since July, when 56 percent said it’s more important to protect religious liberties.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/


AP-GfK Poll: Americans still feeling economic gloom

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are more likely than they were a year ago to have positive views of the nation’s economy, but they’re still feeling more pessimism than optimism, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll conducted ahead of CNBC’s GOP primary debate on Wednesday.

The candidates will attempt to impress Republicans in particular, who the poll finds feel much gloomier about the economy than Democrats.

Here are some things to know about opinions on the economy from the latest AP-GfK poll:

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STILL FEELING GLOOMY

A majority of Americans — 54 percent — say the nation’s economy is poor, the new poll shows. Just 45 percent call it good. Still, views of the economy are slightly rosier than they were over the summer, when a July AP-GfK poll found 41 percent of Americans described the economy as good, and more positive than they were a year ago, when just 38 percent said so.

Half of men, but just 4 in 10 women, describe the economy as good.

Americans are even less likely to see the nation heading in a positive direction overall. Just 36 percent think the country is heading in the right direction, while 63 percent think it’s headed in the wrong direction.

More than 8 in 10 Americans in the new poll described the economy as an extremely or very important issue, down slightly since July. Still, the economy rates higher in importance than any other issue in the poll.

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GOP ESPECIALLY UNHAPPY

The candidates will aim their messages at a Republican Party that has a particularly negative view of the economy.

While 65 percent of Democrats describe the economy as good, just 29 percent of Republicans say the same. Seven in 10 Republicans say the economy is poor, including more than 8 in 10 GOP supporters of the tea party. Eight-five percent of Republicans say the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Independents, too, are unhappy with the economy, with 33 percent seeing it as good and 62 percent poor.

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NOT SEEING IMPROVEMENT

Few Americans — just 17 percent — think the economy has improved over the past month, while 21 percent think it has gotten worse and the bulk — 60 percent — think it’s stayed about the same.

Most Americans don’t expect to see improvement in either the nation’s economy or their own financial situations in the next year, either.

Thirty-one percent say they expect the general economic situation to get better, 32 percent expect it to get worse, and 34 percent expect it to stay about the same. Likewise, 29 percent expect their household financial situation to get better, 25 percent expect it to get worse, and 44 percent expect it to stay the same.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say the economy has gotten worse in the last month, 31 percent to 13 percent. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to expect it to get better in the next year, 40 percent to 21 percent.

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DEMOCRATS HOLD TRUST ADVANTAGE

Whichever GOP candidate emerges victorious in next year’s presidential primaries will need to convince Americans that the party can do a better job than Democrats at handling economic issues.

Americans are slightly more likely to say they trust Democrats than Republicans more on handling the economy, 29 percent to 24 percent, the poll shows.

But neither party’s a clear winner on the issue — 15 percent say they trust both equally and 30 percent say they trust neither party.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they trust neither party, 29 percent to 17 percent. A majority of independents — 55 percent — don’t trust either party.

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DIVISION ON OBAMA’S HANDLING

Americans are slightly more likely to disapprove than approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, 52 percent to 46 percent, according to the new poll. But that’s an apparent rise in his approval rating on the issue since July, when just 42 percent said they approved.

Americans’ rating of Obama on the economy is nearly identical to how they feel about how he’s handling his job overall, with 46 percent approving and 52 percent disapproving.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online from Oct. 15 to 19. The sample was drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel without Internet access were provided it for free.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/


AP-GfK Poll: Support for tighter gun laws ticks up

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a steady string of mass shootings and a revival of the political fight over gun control, Americans are slightly more likely than they were two years ago to say gun laws should be made stricter, a new Associated Press-GfK poll found.

Despite the uptick in favor of tighter gun laws, Americans remain deeply divided along party, gender and geographic lines on an issue that has ricocheted into the presidential campaign. Eight in 10 Democrats favor stricter gun laws, while 6 in 10 Republicans want them left as they are or loosened.

Still, the results show the calls for tighter laws have some bipartisan appeal, with 37 percent of Republicans, including 31 percent of conservative Republicans, favoring stricter gun laws.

The new poll was taken two weeks after the shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, thrust the discussion of gun control into the country’s attention and the presidential campaign. Polls regularly find a rise in support for tighter gun laws after such shootings — although that support often levels off as the headlines fade.

In December 2013, one year after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., 52 percent of Americans said gun laws should be made tighter. That number was 58 percent in the new poll, while 27 percent said they think laws should be left as they are and 12 percent favored making gun laws less strict.

Over a third of Americans said gun laws should be made much stricter, up from 29 percent who said so in the 2013 poll.

And they were slightly less inclined to see laws limiting gun ownership as an infringement on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Forty-five percent saw such laws as an infringement; 51 percent did not. In the 2013 poll, 50 percent said gun laws infringe on the right to bear arms and 47 percent said they did not.

Gun control has become one of the top issues in the Democratic presidential primary, as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has promised to take executive action to expand background checks and accused Republicans of bowing to the powerful gun lobby. President Barack Obama has said he plans to use his bully pulpit to press lawmakers to pass tougher laws, although there’s little sign of momentum in the Republican-run Congress.

The poll finds Democratic politicians are in line with their party’s loyalists. Democrats are more likely than Republicans — 69 percent to 55 percent — to say gun laws are very or extremely important to them.

“The idea of being able to have a concealed weapon on a college campus is frightening to me, absolutely frightening to me,” said Mary Robins, a retired career counselor in Menlo Park, California, who said she favored a ban on assault-type weapons and restricting access to large magazines.

Robins was among the 66 percent of women who said gun laws should be made stricter, compared with 50 percent of men. Women also were more likely to give the issue high priority.

“I think we need to enforce the ones we have and prosecutors and judges should be getting tougher,” said Harry Masse, a 59-year-old police chief in Metropolis, Illinois.

City and suburban dwellers are more likely to back tighter laws than rural Americans.

Americans are equally divided over which party they trust to do a better job handling the issue. Twenty-nine percent say they trust the Republicans more and 27 percent trust the Democrats more, while 13 percent say they trust both equally. An additional 30 percent say they trust neither party on handling the issue.

Obama received notably tough marks on the issue, even from some in his own party. The president made a push for a tighter gun laws in 2013, but failed to persuade Congress. He then issued several executive actions, but until recently has sidelined the issue. Six in 10 Americans disapprove of his handling of the issue, the new poll finds, including 35 percent of Democrats.

“I don’t think he’s done enough,” said Ryan Dupont, a college professor in from Smithfield, Utah. He said he understands Obama must work with “less-than-ideal” people in Congress but “I think that issue needs to be moved more aggressively.”

Unchanged since 2013 is the share of Americans living in a household where at least one person owns a gun — about one-third. About half of Republicans live in households with a gun, compared with less than a third of Democrats or independents.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/


AP-GfK Poll: Use default, shutdown threats to cut spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided public thinks it’s worth shutting the government or halting its ability to borrow to pay bills unless President Barack Obama consents to spending cuts, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. Predictably, Democratic and Republican loyalists have starkly different views.

Some specific goals of GOP lawmakers fare poorly when they are in the balance: There’s little taste for forcing a shutdown over halting federal payments to Planned Parenthood, repealing Obama’s health care overhaul or blocking a nuclear deal with Iran.

The survey was conducted earlier this month as Obama and the GOP-controlled Congress crept toward a pair of deadlines that, without action, could trigger jolting political and economic reverberations.

Republican congressional leaders struck a deal with their Democratic counterparts late Monday on a two-year budget deal aimed at averting a debt crisis and shuttering the government. A vote could come as early as Wednesday in the House. Failure to extend the government’s ability to borrow money by early November could spark a destabilizing, first-ever federal default, while a partial government shutdown would begin if lawmakers don’t approve money by Dec. 11 to keep agencies running.

Though many in the AP-GfK poll and rank-and-file congressional conservatives seem to disagree, top Republicans want to avoid a headline-grabbing shutdown or lapse of federal borrowing authority this year for fear of branding their party as unable to govern and alienating voters.

Fifty percent in the poll said Congress should only increase federal borrowing authority if government spending is substantially cut — a trade-off Republicans frequently demand but last won in a 2011 showdown with Obama. Another 35 percent said the debt limit should be raised by itself to avoid a default, with separate talks over budget cuts that wouldn’t jeopardize a borrowing pact. Eleven percent opposed boosting the ceiling under any circumstances.

That finding masked a deeper partisan gap. While 58 percent of Democrats want to raise the debt limit and negotiate later over spending reductions, 73 percent of Republicans want to condition a borrowing ceiling increase on an agreement to cut expenditures.

“The long-term answer is to get the debt down so we don’t have to keep extending” the borrowing cap, said Michael Fiorillo, 62, a Republican and software consultant from Plains, Georgia, who responded to the AP-GfK survey. “We’re spending more than we’re bringing in. That’s just bad economics.”

At the same time, 56 percent overall said it would be worth a government shutdown to win spending cuts, compared to 40 percent who disagreed. Once again, party differences were telling — 74 percent of Republicans were willing to close agencies to try winning budget reductions, while a lower, though surprisingly high, 44 percent of Democrats agreed.

“There are consequences for shutting down the government, it affects people in an immediate sense, like their jobs,” said Serena Keiler, 38, a Democrat who works for an entertainment company in Los Angeles, California, and opposes a shutdown. “It’s really an uncreative way of working toward a solution.”

Only 1 in 4 overall backed forcing a shutdown to block Planned Parenthood’s money, including fewer than half of Republicans. The GOP has unsuccessfully tried halting the group’s federal payments because of abortions and fetal tissue donations it performs.

Just over a third backed a shutdown over annulling Obama’s health law and around 4 in 10 supported the tactic to derail the nuclear pact with Iran.

Those sentiments contrasted sharply with the more aggressive views of tea party supporters, whose opinions influence some congressional Republicans. Among that conservative group, support for a shutdown over Planned Parenthood, the health care law, the Iran deal and cutting federal spending ran between 60 percent and 90 percent.

Tea party backers represent around one-fifth of those in the AP-GfK poll.

The survey highlights public indecision over extending the debt ceiling, which lets the government borrow money to pay costs that it has already incurred. By a small margin, more people oppose than support raising the limit while the bulk — more than 4 in 10 — are neutral.

More feel strongly that a default would cause a major economic crisis than deeply doubt that, by more than 2-1. Still, a significant 4 in 10 think that’s only somewhat likely — even though most economists think a default would seriously hurt the world economy.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to 19. The sample was drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have Internet access were provided it for free.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/


AP-GfK Poll: Republicans view Donald Trump as most electable
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican voters view Donald Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.

Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Trump could win in November 2016 if he is nominated, and that’s the most who say so of any candidate. By comparison, 6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.

“It’s the lifelong establishment politicians on both sides that rub me the wrong way,” said registered Republican Joe Selig, a 60-year-old carpenter from Vallejo, California. “I think Trump is more electable. He’s strong. We need strength these days.”

Trump and Carson are considered among the least electable general election candidates by the Republican Party’s professionals, those who are in the business of helping candidates run campaigns and win elections.

Experienced political strategists note that winning a general election and winning the Republican nomination are often very different tasks. The GOP’s most conservative voters — a group that is older and whiter than the nation as a whole — wield extraordinary influence in picking the nominee. Independents, moderate voters and minorities are far more important in general elections that draw many more people to the polls.

While Trump and Carson are popular in primary election polls, both have used divisive rhetoric in recent months that alienated some minorities. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals during his announcement speech; while Carson said he would not support a Muslim presidential candidate.

“Republicans think (Democrat) Hillary (Rodham Clinton) is weaker than she is. They are wrong,” said GOP operative Katie Packer, who was deputy campaign manager for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. “They think we don’t need to win more women or more Hispanics to win. They’re wrong.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has embraced a welcoming tone with Hispanics, tops the field of experienced political leaders on the question of electability, running about even with Carson and slightly behind Trump.

Six in 10 Republicans say Bush could win the general election and 54 percent say the same about Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. There’s a drop-off among the rest of the GOP’s 2016 crowded class. None of the other candidates is viewed as electable in a general election by more than half of Republican voters.

Carson and Trump are the candidates most likely to receive positive ratings from Republican voters, with 65 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of Carson and 58 percent saying the same of Trump. Republicans are somewhat less excited about Bush, with 48 percent giving him a favorable rating.

“If he weren’t a Bush, I wouldn’t even know his name,” said Republican Leslie Millican, a 34-year-old housewife from Magnolia, Arkansas. “I like the other Bushes. Something about (Jeb Bush) — he ain’t grown on me yet.”

Trump and Bush have the highest negative ratings within their own party: 37 percent of Republican voters say they have an unfavorable opinion of Bush and 36 percent say the same of Trump.

Their negatives are even more pronounced among the broader electorate. The AP-GfK poll found Trump is viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of those surveyed, the highest negatives of any Republican candidate. Bush is next with unfavorable ratings from 48 percent of all respondents.

Overall, all but one GOP candidate is viewed more unfavorably than favorably by all those questioned. Carson is the exception, drawing about equally positive and negative views. He remains unknown by a significant portion of the electorate.

Among Republican voters, all the candidates except New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have a net positive rating. Carson tops the list, followed by Rubio, former technology executive Carly Fiorina and then Trump.

The poll also found a sharp difference between the political parties over experience.

By an overwhelming 77 percent to 22 percent margin, Republican registered voters and leaners say they prefer an outsider candidate who will change how things are done, rather than someone with experience in Washington who can get things done. They prefer someone with private sector leadership experience over experience holding elected office, 76 percent to 22 percent.

Trump, Carson and Fiorina are the only Republican candidates who have never held elective office. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is a former first lady, secretary of state and senator.

Perhaps that helps explain why Democrats prefer experience over outsider status, 67 percent to 32 percent, and experience in office over private sector experience 66 percent to 33 percent.

Republican strategist John Feehery says Trump is considered electable now only because he hasn’t yet been the subject of a multimillion dollar negative ad campaign, which will happen should he maintain his lead in the polls.

“Right now, he serves a valuable purpose as a front-runner, especially for the Democrats,” Feehery said. “They would love him to be our nominee.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online October 15 to October 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

Poll: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Republicans disapprove of Clinton on Benghazi, but Democrats largely indifferent

By EMILY SWANSON

WASHINGTON (AP) — The congressional investigation of the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, is not a burning issue for the public, except for Republicans, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

But overall, Americans are more likely to view the investigation as justified rather than as a political attack on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who testifies before a congressional committee Thursday.

Here are some things to know about public opinion on Clinton and Benghazi from the new AP-GfK poll.

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APATHY ON CLINTON’S HANDLING

Many Americans just don’t have an opinion about Clinton’s handling of the investigation. Four in 10 say they neither approve nor disapprove of how she has answered questions about the attack, while 20 percent approve and 37 percent disapprove.

Republicans in the poll overwhelmingly dislike how Clinton has handled questions on the attack — 71 percent disapprove, including 57 percent who strongly disapprove.

But about half of both Democrats and independents don’t have strong enough feelings on the issue to say either way.

Democrats who do have an opinion are more likely to approve than disapprove, 39 percent to 12 percent. Independents are more likely to disapprove than approve, 29 percent to 11 percent.

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MOST SAY INVESTIGATION JUSTIFIED

Despite the lack of strong opinions about Clinton’s handling of the issue, Americans don’t mind the congressional investigation. They are more likely to view it as a justified attempt to try to find out what happened than as a politically motivated attack on Clinton, 52 percent to 44 percent.

On this, too, there is a major partisan divide.

Among Republicans, 83 percent consider the investigation justified and 15 percent consider it politically motivated. Among Democrats, 71 percent consider it politically motivated and just 28 percent justified.

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EVEN DIVIDE ON EMAILS

Clinton is also likely to face questions Thursday about her use of a private email account and server, rather than a government address, while she was secretary of state.

Americans are divided on what they think is the most likely reason Clinton did that. Just under half (47 percent) think it’s because it was more convenient for her to have only one email address, about the same as the 49 percent who say it’s because she wanted to shield her emails from government transparency laws.

On this, too, Americans appear to view the issue through a partisan lens. Seventy-one percent of Democrats believe Clinton is more likely to have done it for convenience, while 73 percent of Republicans suspect she wanted to shield her emails from scrutiny. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans supporters of the tea party movement think she was trying to shield herself from scrutiny.

Independents are slightly more likely to say she wanted to avoid government transparency laws than that she did it for convenience, 48 percent to 40 percent.

The poll finds that perceptions about Clinton’s honesty remain a weak point. Two-thirds of Americans describe Clinton as only slightly or not at all honest, while a third say she is very or somewhat honest.

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MORE SEE EMAILS AS MINOR PROBLEM

Americans are slightly more likely to view Clinton’s use of a private email server as a minor problem than a major problem, 37 percent to 33 percent. An additional 26 percent say it’s not a problem at all.

Among Democrats, 10 percent call it a major problem, 52 percent a minor problem and 37 percent not a problem.

Among Republicans, 64 percent call it a major problem, 24 percent a minor problem and 11 percent not a problem.

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FEW CLOSELY WATCHING EMAIL ISSUE

Just 21 percent of Americans say they’re following news about Clinton using a private email server extremely or very closely. An additional 33 percent say they’re following the subject somewhat closely, and 43 percent say they’re not following too closely or not following at all.

Partisans on both sides are more likely than independents to say they’re following very closely. About a quarter of both Democrats and Republicans, but less than 10 percent of independents, say so.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/

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Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: Republicans want principles, not compromise

WASHINGTON (AP) — As GOP lawmakers in the House decide whether to unite around Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as the next speaker, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds Republicans nationally prefer congressional leadership that will stand on conservative principles, not compromise — even if it leads to a government shutdown.

Neither party’s supporters are particularly happy with their leaders in Congress, the poll suggests.

Some things to know about public opinion on Congress and its leadership from the AP-GfK poll:

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PRINCIPLES OVER COMPROMISE

Among Republicans in the poll, 62 percent say they would prefer a new speaker who will stick with conservative principles even if doing so leads to a government shutdown. Just 37 percent prefer someone who will compromise with President Barack Obama and Democrats to pass a budget.

That’s a struggle the next speaker will need to handle soon. The continuing resolution that funded the government and avoided a shutdown last month expires in December.

More generally, 56 percent of Republicans say they prefer leaders from their party in Congress to stick to their principles even if it makes passing legislation difficult, while just 43 percent want leaders who will compromise with the other side.

There’s a deep divide within the Republican Party on the issue of principles versus compromise.

Seven in 10 conservative Republicans prefer a speaker who will stick with conservative principles even if it causes a shutdown, while less than half of moderate or liberal Republicans say the same. More than 6 in 10 conservative Republicans, but just 4 in 10 moderate to liberal ones, say they generally prefer congressional leaders to stick to their principles even if it makes it difficult to pass legislation.

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DEMS, INDIES PREFER COMPROMISE

Among all those questioned, more say they would prefer that leaders from their party in Congress compromise to pass legislation rather than stick with their principles, 60 percent to 37 percent. Also, 63 percent say they want the next speaker to be someone who will compromise to pass a budget.

Democrats want their own party’s leaders to compromise with the other side rather than stick to their principles at the expense of passing legislation, 76 percent to 23 percent. A majority of independents also prefer party leaders to compromise.

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NOT FEELING LEADERSHIP LOVE

People don’t feel particularly happy with current congressional leadership of either party. Majorities say both Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress don’t represent them well.

Even Democrats sizing up Democratic leaders and Republicans judging GOP leaders don’t have great feelings about how well they’re represented.

Just 37 percent of Democrats say Democratic leaders in Congress represent their views extremely or very well, while 47 percent say they’re represented only moderately well and 15 percent say they’re not represented well.

Among Republicans, even fewer — just 22 percent — think Republican leaders in Congress represent them very well, 45 percent moderately well, and 33 percent not well.

Liberal Democrats are more likely than moderate to conservative ones to feel very well represented by Democratic leaders in Congress, 50 percent to 30 percent. There’s no such difference between conservative Republicans and moderate to liberal ones, who are about equal in their opinions that congressional Republican leaders do a mediocre job of representing them.

Independents feel poorly represented by congressional leadership regardless of party. Six in 10 say leaders of each party in Congress represent them not very well or not well at all.

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CONGRESS DEEPLY UNPOPULAR

Whoever takes the helm as speaker will preside over a deeply unpopular institution. Just 16 percent of respondents approve of the job Congress is doing more generally, while 83 percent disapprove.

Twenty percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans approve of the job Congress is doing.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/

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Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: After debate, voters say Clinton most electable
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats appear to be rallying around Hillary Rodham Clinton after her command performance in the party’s first presidential debate, with strong majorities viewing her favorably and more saying she can win the White House than any of her rivals, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

The survey released Tuesday finds that Clinton has regained traction in the 2016 primary contest following a summer slump, with nearly 8 in 10 Democrats saying they have a positive opinion of her. That’s a slight uptick for Clinton, eight points better than the last time the question was asked in an AP-GfK poll in July.

To the extent that there is a desire for an alternative to Clinton in the Democratic field, the poll finds that Vice President Joe Biden appears more able to provide it than the insurgent campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats said they had a favorable view of Biden, who has spent months weighing whether to jump into the race. Only about half of Democrats say that about Sanders.

Sanders isn’t necessarily unpopular among Democrats, but the longtime political independent is still not well known. A third said they don’t know enough about him to have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion.

It’s not just Democrats who view Clinton as a possible winner. Three quarters of Americans think Clinton could win in a general election, including two-thirds of Republicans.

By comparison, 56 percent of Americans think Biden could win and just 44 percent think Sanders could claim the White House.

Meanwhile, less than half of Americans said they think any of the Republican candidates for president could win in a general election.

Among Democrats, 9 in 10 think it would be possible for Clinton to win if she were the nominee, while 7 in 10 say the same of Biden.

“Joe Biden should stay on the sidelines, he’s better that way,” said Alonzon McClendon, a 57-year-old warehouse manager in Dallas. “Clinton is more qualified.”

Democrats are split on whether Sanders could win the election, with 52 percent saying he could and 46 percent saying he could not.

The gains for Clinton come after months of enduring criticism for her use of a private email account and server while serving as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state.

The survey was conducted Oct. 15-19, after the first Democratic debate, and her strong showing there — the first of three high-profile events for Clinton this month — appears to have helped reassure supporters worried about the state of her campaign.

On Thursday, Clinton is scheduled to testify before the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

Clinton plans to use the hearing as an opportunity to lay out her foreign policy credentials, emphasizing the importance of so-called “smart power” — using diplomacy to achieve gains in dangerous regions without traditional military action.

A Clinton aide said her goal is to draw a sharp contrast with Republicans, who they expect will focus on her emails. The aide said she plans to respond by stressing her personal relationship with Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who died in the attacks.

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity, because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss internal campaign strategy.

On Saturday, Clinton and Sanders head to Des Moines for the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, an annual meeting of influential activists that helped then-Sen. Barack Obama find his footing in the 2008 race.

Biden is not scheduled to appear at the event as he continued to ponder whether he’s ready for a presidential run after the spring death of his son, Beau.

After weeks of public indecision, 62 percent of Democrats say they consider Biden very or somewhat decisive, compared to 77 percent for Clinton and 54 percent for Sanders.

Biden leads Clinton among Democrats on which candidate is perceived as most likable, 77 percent to 69 percent. About equal numbers — more than 7 in 10 — consider Biden and Clinton to be at least somewhat compassionate.

Sanders trails both on those measures, with 55 percent of Democrats rating him as likable and 56 percent as compassionate.

Democrats are also more likely to describe Biden than Clinton as very or somewhat honest, 72 percent to 60 percent. At the same time, more than seven out of ten find Clinton “inspiring” and more than 8 out of 10 say she is competent — giving her a notable lead over both Biden and Sanders in those characteristics.

In a contrast with the Republican primary field, which has been marked by the rise of candidates with little governmental experience, two-thirds of Democratic voters say they prefer someone who has experience in Washington over an outsider.

“The system is broken and it doesn’t work well, but I don’t think a person who comes with no experience can fix it,” said Joyce Tally, 67, a retiree from Vilonia, Arkansas. “Clinton is experienced. She’s qualified.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online October 15 to October 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/

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Follow Lisa Lerer and Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/llerer and http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll shows few in US have received credit cards with chips

Even as an Oct. 1 deadline approaches to replace Americans’ out-of-date credit cards with new cards embedded with computer chips, the vast majority of Americans still have not received their new cards and only a small minority are using the chips at all, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

The poll finds that roughly one in 10 Americans have received the new chip-enabled credit cards. Of those who have received the cards, only one-third say they’ve actually used the cards as intended in new specialized credit card readers.

In an effort to combat mounting credit card fraud, U.S. banks are making a push to replace the magnetic-stripe credit cards Americans use with new ones that have tiny computer chips embedded in them, which are far more secure.

The older type of cards, long since been phased out in other major countries, have become easy targets for thieves, who have found multiple ways to exploit the security flaws in the decades-old magnetic stripe technology. Even though the U.S. counts for 25 percent of all credit card transactions, half of all credit card fraud happens in America, according to a report by Barclays.

The chip cards, which have been used in Europe and elsewhere for more than a decade, transmit a one-time code when they’re inserted into a card-reading device to make a purchase. Even if the code is stolen, thieves can’t use it to make other purchases.

The new chip cards can’t prevent a thief using a person’s stolen credit card information to make fraudulent purchases online, however.

The new poll shows Americans are more likely to say they’re very concerned about their personal information being secure when making purchases online (45 percent) than in stores (38 percent).

In 2012, Visa, MasterCard and other payment processors set a soft deadline of Oct. 1, 2015 for merchants to have their equipment changed to accept the new cards, but industry representatives estimate that only half of merchants will be ready in time. Banks say it will take well into 2016 to replace all Americans’ credit and debit cards.

Digging into the numbers, the poll finds 41 percent of Americans have received a new credit or debit card in the past few months. But only 30 percent of those who have received new cards, or 13 percent of all Americans, have received a new card with a chip embedded on the front of it. Of those who have received the card, 35 percent say they’ve actually used them as intended.

The new chip-enabled cards also come with magnetic stripes, and many users are still swiping them just like they always have. The new cards require users to insert their card into an ATM-like slot in a card reader for several seconds.

Briana Thompson, a college student in Northwest Ohio, said she received her new card around Christmas.

“I remember going ‘oh, wow, the card looks cool,’” Thompson said. “But I haven’t had a chance to use the chip. I haven’t encountered a merchant who accepts them.”

The poll shows that Americans, once given the cards, are figuring out how to use them. Among those who do have a new card, 70 percent say they know how to use it. But just a quarter of Americans, including a little over a third of those who have received the new cards, say they understand very or extremely well why they’re being sent the cards in the first place.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online July 9 to July 13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/


AP-GfK poll: Americans favor farmers & food during drought
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When water gets scarce and the government slaps restrictions on its use, who should be first in line at the spigot? Farmers, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

The national survey provides a glimpse into how Americans think water should be managed at a time when abnormally dry weather has afflicted swaths of the country, and water shortages in some states have led to conflict over who should get water and how much.

Two-thirds of Americans believe water is a limited resource that can be depleted if people use too much, the poll found, and 70 percent believe that government should restrict how much residents and businesses use when drought takes hold.

When asked to rate the importance of competing needs when water is scarce, 74 percent said agriculture should be a top or high priority, followed by residential needs (66 percent), wildlife and ecosystems (54 percent) and business and industry (42 percent).

To Cheryl Hendricks in parched California, it’s simple: To put food on the table “we rely on agriculture.”

“It’s getting kind of serious when you are not giving water to people who are producing food,” said Hendricks, 63, of Rancho Cucamonga, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

She and her husband are taking shorter showers and removing lawn in response to California’s four-year drought, but for growers and ranchers “it’s more important for them to have it.”

The poll’s findings appear to run against criticism of farming practices that demand vast amounts of water. In California, for example, agriculture accounts for 80 percent of all water drawn from rivers, streams and the ground. Producing California’s almond crop consumes more water than all the showering, dish-washing and other indoor household water use of the state’s 39 million people.

The drought has been acute in California, where rainfall has dipped to record lows, reservoirs are depleted and state regulators have ordered conservation from cities, businesses and agriculture. Some communities have been given nine months to cut their use by 36 percent compared to 2013 levels.

Nevada’s Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, is hovering near its historic low water mark and residents in the Las Vegas area have limits on lawn watering. In Oakridge in western Oregon, a community well is 23 feet below normal and restrictions prevent residents from washing cars and filling swimming pools.

“We need to take care of people first — and food,” said William Clarke-Jessimy, 33, from Queens, New York, who thinks homes and agriculture should be favored for water rights.

He’s watched prices spike for California fresh fruits and vegetables in his local markets, and he worries about friends and family in the San Francisco area who are living with the scarcity of water, with no relief in sight.

“It’s really scary,” he said. “They need to find ways to deal with the drought on a long-term basis. I don’t think a lot of people realize how bad it really is.”

Earlier this month, the House passed Republican-backed legislation designed to bring more water to California’s farm belt. Republicans have blamed some cutbacks on environmental regulations designed to protect salmon and the threatened Delta smelt, a three-inch-long fish that is disappearing. California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has proposed spending $1.3 billion over a decade for reservoirs, desalination projects and water recycling.

According to the survey, Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to call water for agriculture a top priority, 81 percent to 74 percent, respectively. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to see water for wildlife and ecosystems as a top need, 61 percent to 49 percent.

There was little variation in regions around the nation in picking top priorities.

The poll also found most Americans — nearly 80 percent — think government should limit developers to building only in places with an adequate, long-term water supply.

The advocacy group Food & Water Watch has urged Gov. Jerry Brown to place a moratorium on groundwater use for irrigating crops in some parts of the heavily farmed San Joaquin Valley. California director Adam Scow said the poll’s findings reflect that people value food production but the group believes “we simply don’t have the water” to support crops in some drought stricken regions.

David Abbott has witnessed the toll in his hometown.

The resident of Winton, California, in the heart of the state’s Central Valley farm belt, has seen fields turn to dusty patches and farm workers end up jobless. Friends’ wells have gone dry.

In California, farmers have seen allocations of water from rivers and reservoirs slashed by government agencies in amounts greater than at any other time in California history, forcing many to tap depleted groundwater sources or buy it at high prices.

Abbott, 27, a part-time college business professor, places home use and the needs of agriculture on about equal footing. For his part, he’s watering less outdoors at home, has changed shower heads to conserve and waits to get a full load of dirty laundry before turning on the washing machine.

“I know it’s hard when we don’t have water,” said Abbott, who lives amid farms and almond orchards. “They say we are going to have a real wet winter, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online July 9-13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Majority of Americans favor diplomatic ties with Cuba

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly three-fourths of Americans think the United States should have diplomatic ties with Cuba, but they’re not sure how far to go in lifting sanctions, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Monday as full diplomatic relations between the two countries were formally restored.

“Relations between Cuba and the U.S. I think are long overdue. There’s no threat there,” said Alex Bega, 30, of Los Angeles. “I think the sanctions we have on them are pretty much obsolete.”

The resumption of normal ties ended decades of acrimony between the two nations that was hardened when President John F. Kennedy and Cuba’s Fidel Castro fought over Soviet expansion in the Americas. The new diplomatic status, however, does not erase lingering disputes, such as mutual claims for economic reparations, Havana’s desire to end a more than 50-year-old trade embargo and the U.S. push for Cuba to improve human rights and democracy.

The new poll also found that 58 percent of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Havana while 40 disapprove. By contrast, only 39 percent approve of his handling of the U.S. role in world affairs more generally, while 59 percent disapprove.

“I just disapprove of his politics in general,” said Julie Smith, 40, a university administrator from Bowling Green, Kentucky. “I just don’t think that us trying to improve relations with Cuba is beneficial to the United States.”

Respondents were split on what to do about the sanctions on Cuba. Forty-eight percent thought they should be decreased or eliminated entirely while 47 percent favored keeping them at their current level or increasing them. Five percent didn’t answer.

The story was different when it came to Iran.

Seventy-seven percent said they thought sanctions on Tehran should be kept where they are or increased, according to the poll, which was conducted just days before the U.S. signed an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for economic sanctions relief. Under the agreement, Iran’s nuclear program will be curbed for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of relief from international sanctions.

Mary Barry, 57, of Arlington, Texas, is happy that the Obama administration opened diplomatic efforts with both Cuba and Iran, but is wary about lifting sanctions on the two countries.

“I think we need to have diplomatic relations with Iran and monitor their nuclear weapon,” said Berry, who works producing and staging corporate business meetings. But, she said: “I think we need to keep the sanctions in place on Iran to make sure they’re doing what they’ve promised they’re going to do because I think Iran is a country that you can’t really trust.”

On Cuba, she thinks it’s “just time” to restore diplomatic relations. But she favors a gradual lifting of sanctions on Cuba. “I don’t think they should be lifted immediately,” she said.

There is some momentum in Congress, however, to lift the trade embargo.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., backs a bipartisan bill in the Senate to lift the embargo, which she said must be done for the U.S. to avoid losing investment opportunities that will come with loosening of travel restrictions to the island.

“Once millions of American tourists are going, they will need places to stay and they will need food to eat. … So when they come, they are going to be starting to sleep in Spanish hotels and eat German foods because those countries will be able to supply what they need in the tourism industry, not to mention the computers and Wi-Fi and everything else,” Klobuchar said in an interview.

She predicted the legislation, which has 20 co-sponsors so far, would pass, although maybe not this year. “I know there are some people who have long been opposed to this,” she said.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey thinks the Obama administration’s work to restore relations is an attempt to validate the Castro regime’s “brutal behavior.”

“I remain deeply concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Cuba,” Menendez said Monday. “There have been over 2,800 political arrests on the island this year alone.”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online July 9 to July 13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Sharp divisions after high court backs gay marriage

NEW YORK (AP) — The Supreme Court’s ruling last month legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide has left Americans sharply divided, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that suggests support for gay unions may be down slightly from earlier this year.

The poll also found a near-even split over whether local officials with religious objections should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with 47 percent saying that should be the case and 49 percent say they should be exempt.

Overall, if there’s a conflict, a majority of those questioned think religious liberties should win out over gay rights, according to the poll. While 39 percent said it’s more important for the government to protect gay rights, 56 percent said protection of religious liberties should take precedence.

The poll was conducted July 9 to July 13, less than three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

According to the poll, 42 percent support same-sex marriage and 40 percent oppose it. The percentage saying they favor legal same-sex marriage in their state was down slightly from the 48 percent who said so in an April poll. In January, 44 percent were in favor.

Asked specifically about the Supreme Court ruling, 39 percent said they approve and 41 percent said they disapprove.

“What the Supreme Court did is jeopardize our religious freedoms,” said Michael Boehm, 61, an industrial controls engineer from the Detroit area who describes himself as a conservative-leaning independent.

“You’re going to see a conflict between civil law and people who want to live their lives according to their faiths,” Boehm said.

Boehm was among 59 percent of the poll respondents who said wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. That compares with 52 percent in April.

Also, 46 percent said businesses more generally should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, while 51 percent said that should not be allowed.

Claudette Girouard, 69, a retiree from Chesterfield Township, Michigan, said she is a moderate independent voter who has gradually become supportive of letting same-sex couples marry.

“I don’t see what the big hoopla is,” she said. “If they’re happy, why not?”

Girouard said local officials should be required to perform same-sex marriages, but does not think that wedding-related businesses should be forced to serve same-sex couples.

“If the official doesn’t like what he’s being asked to do, then quit,” she said. “But businesses are kind of independent, so if they have a strong belief against it, there are enough other businesses out there for someone to use.”

The poll found pronounced differences in viewpoints depending on political affiliation.

For example, 65 percent of Democrats, but only 22 percent of Republicans favored allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in their state. And 72 percent of Republicans but just 31 percent of Democrats said local officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses.

By a 64-32 margin, most Democrats said it’s more important to protect gay rights than religious liberties when the two are in conflict. Republicans said the opposite, by 82-17.

Clarence Wells, 60, a conservative from Rockwood, Tennessee, said he strongly disapproved of the Supreme Court’s ruling. He anticipates friction as gay couples try to exercise their newfound rights and people with religious objections to same-sex marriage balk at accepting them.

“I don’t believe it’s going to go over smoothly,” said Wells. “I think a lot of them will be shunned in church. … I think there will businesses that are going to close, because some people are stubborn enough to not want to deal with it.”

Andrew Chan, 41, a moderate independent from Seattle, said he has tried to remain neutral on same-sex marriage.

“For me, it’s always been about tolerating,” said Chan, who works for a nonprofit organization. “I’ve got friends on both sides.”

Chan said he was happy for gays and lesbians who have found someone they want to marry, and he expressed some wariness toward politicians who might try to roll back the Supreme Court ruling.

“That just creates more division,” he said. “Are we looking to move the country forward or move it backward?”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online July 9 to July 13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Some questions were ask of half samples of respondents and have smaller margins of error. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Swanson reported from Washington.

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Reach David Crary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP and Emily Swanson at http://twitter.com/EL_Swan

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Minorities, young Americans still backing Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as the public remains closely divided about his presidency, Barack Obama is holding on to his support from the so-called “Obama coalition” of minorities, liberals and young Americans, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows, creating an incentive for the next Democratic presidential nominee to stick with him and his policies.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, by comparison, is viewed somewhat less favorably by the key voting groups whose record-setting turnout in 2008 propelled Obama to the White House and will be crucial to her own success.

Roughly two-thirds of Hispanics view Obama favorably, compared to just over half of Hispanics who say the same about Clinton. Among self-identified liberals, Obama’s favorability stands at 87 percent, to Clinton’s 72 percent. Half of Americans under the age of 30 view Obama favorably, compared to just 38 percent for his former secretary of state.

The findings offer a window into the factors at play as Clinton decides how closely to embrace Obama, his record and his policies in her campaign for president. Although associating herself with Obama could turn off some independent and Republican-leaning voters, electoral math and changing demographics make it critical for Democrats to turn out high numbers of Hispanics, African Americans and young voters.

Overall, Obama’s job approval rating stands at 43 percent, a leveling off following an AP-GfK poll conducted in early February that put his approval at 47 percent — slightly higher than it had been through most of 2014. The number of Americans who disapprove of Obama’s job performance has stayed relatively steady at 55 percent.

“He just seems to have something in his mind that he wants to accomplish and keeps trying to get it done,” said Christine Klauder, a self-described liberal from southern New Jersey. Klauder said she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and that her support hasn’t dropped off. “He’s more oriented toward the kind of people that I feel that we are, have been all my life.”

Contrast that with Klauder’s views about Clinton, who has yet to win her enthusiastic support. “Being a woman, I think it would be wonderful to see her in — but I’m not sure,” Klauder said. “I think maybe her time has passed.”

Obama, whose troubles in the polls were seen as a drag on Democratic in last year’s midterm elections, has also managed to hold on to recent gains he’s made among core supporters.

When AP-GfK polled in October 2014, Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics had plummeted to 39 percent, as Hispanic advocacy groups demanded that Obama take aggressive action on immigration. One month later, he did just that — and his job approval among Hispanics now stands at 56 percent. Whereas 72 percent of liberals approved of Obama’s performance in October, that number now appears to have climbed, to 82 percent.

The survey reinforces a concern expressed by many Democrats about Clinton’s candidacy: that she just doesn’t inspire the levels of enthusiasm among traditional Democratic constituencies that were so critical to Obama’s success.

In the first weeks of her campaign, Clinton has promoted a number of populist ideas surrounding immigration, voting rights and economics that hew closely to themes that Obama has made central to his presidency. Although she distanced herself from Obama by suggesting she would have voted against giving him expedited authority to negotiate trade deals, she offered explicit support for the controversial nuclear deal with Iran that Obama announced this week.

Esther Danner, a 61-year-old from Hanover, Maryland, said she’s continued to support Obama because she feels he’s made progress on overhauling health care, promoting same-sex marriage and lifting the ban on gays in the military. Danner, who works part time at an African American heritage museum, said she thought Obama’s full-throated support would go a long way to persuade minorities and young Americans to show up to vote for the next Democratic nominee.

“The last eight years have been preparing for the 2016 election,” Danner said. “The current generation that voted for Obama, like myself, will probably continue the journey with the next Democratic candidate.”

In an AP-GfK poll conducted in January and February, nearly half of Americans — 47 percent — described the economy as “good,” almost as many as the 51 percent who called it “poor.” Since then, views of the economy have grown slightly more negative, with 41 percent now saying the economy is “good” and 57 percent saying it’s “poor.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online from Thursday to Monday, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, but higher for subgroups such as Hispanics and African Americans.

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Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP and Emily Swanson at http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: Clinton’s standing falls among Democrats
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s standing is falling among Democrats, and voters view her as less decisive and inspiring than when she launched her presidential campaign just three months ago, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The survey offers a series of warning signs for the leading Democratic candidate. Most troubling, perhaps, for her prospects are questions about her compassion for average Americans, a quality that fueled President Barack Obama’s two White House victories.

Just 39 percent of all Americans have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to nearly half who say they have a negative opinion of her. That’s an eight-point increase in her unfavorable rating from an AP-GfK poll conducted at the end of April.

The drop in Clinton’s numbers extends into the Democratic Party. Seven in 10 Democrats gave Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from the April survey. Nearly a quarter of Democrats now say they see Clinton in an unfavorable light.

“I used to like her, but I don’t trust her,” said Donald Walters of Louisville, Kentucky. “Ever since she’s announced her candidacy for the presidency I just haven’t liked the way she’s handled things. She doesn’t answer questions directly.”

While Clinton’s approval rating fell, Obama’s stayed constant at 46 percent since April. More than 8 in 10 Democrats have a positive view of the president.

At least part of Clinton’s decline may be due to questions about her character, a topic Republicans have been trying to make central to the 2016 campaign. In ads, stump speeches and online videos, they paint her as a creature of Washington who flouts the rules to get ahead.

While Clinton has spent decades in the public eye, she’s focused in recent months on creating a more relatable — and empathetic — image. In public events, she frequently talks about her new granddaughter, Charlotte, and references her early career as a legal advocate for impoverished children.

The survey suggests that voters aren’t sold on her reinvention: Only 4 in 10 voters say they view Clinton as “compassionate.” Just 3 in 10 said the word “honest” described her either very or somewhat well.

Stephanie Bergholdo, a Democratic voter from Oak Park, California, says she finds Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren far more sincere in their liberal views — though she’s likely to vote for Clinton should she become the party’s nominee.

“She’s piggybacking on some of the things they’ve been talking about,” said Bergholdo. “I don’t think she comes across very genuine. She just seems a little stiff to me.”

The percentage of respondents calling Clinton at least somewhat inspiring also slipped from 44 percent to 37 percent.

Even the number of voters saying Clinton is at least somewhat decisive, previously a strong point for the former New York senator, fell from 56 percent in April to 47 percent in the new poll.

“She’s pretty much a run-of-the-mill Democrat,” said Mark Oldenburg of Madison, Wisconsin. “I don’t know that there’s anything particularly special about her.”

Other polls released this week show contrasting results. A Washington Post-ABC News survey found an uptick in Clinton’s favorability, while a Suffolk University-USA Today poll showed a slightly net negative rating.

That means the downturn for Clinton could be a result of random differences in survey sampling or a troubling trend for the dominant Democratic candidate, underscoring the undefined nature of the crowded early presidential campaign.

Democrats argue that a drop in her numbers is a predictable result of Clinton’s return to the partisan fray after years in the less overtly political position of secretary of state. Republicans, meanwhile, attribute the drop to questions about the financial dealings of Clinton’s family foundation and her use of an email account run from a server kept at her New York home while serving as secretary of state.

Clinton’s bad marks weren’t unique: Nearly all of the Republican candidates surveyed in the poll shared her underwater approval ratings. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a leading GOP candidate, saw his unfavorable ratings rise to 44 percent from 36 percent in April.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online Thursday to Monday, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access with no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Ahead of deal, Americans express mixed feelings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans think of Iran as an enemy of the United States, but a narrow majority still supported a diplomatic relationship in a poll conducted on the eve of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Things to know about public opinion on Iran:

MOST WANT DIPLOMACY, LIKE SANCTIONS

A slim majority of Americans (51 percent) said the United States should have a diplomatic relationship with Iran, the AP-GfK poll found, slightly more than the 45 percent who said it should not.

At the same time, sanctions against Iran were popular. Altogether, 45 percent of Americans in the poll said the sanctions should remain at their current level and 32 percent thought they should be increased. Just 12 percent thought sanctions should be decreased and 7 percent said they should be eliminated. The question did not mention the possibility of reducing sanctions in exchange for a nuclear deal.

AMERICANS SEE IRAN AS ENEMY

A majority of Americans — 56 percent — consider Iran to be an enemy, the poll found. An additional 31 percent consider Iran to be unfriendly, but not an enemy.

Large majorities of Americans across party lines said Iran is at least unfriendly to the United States. More than 70 percent of Republicans, half of independents and 45 percent of Democrats said before the nuclear deal that Iran is an enemy.

Nearly half of those who said Iran is an enemy, but just 14 percent of those who considered it unfriendly, wanted to increase sanctions.

REPUBLICANS LIKE A HARDLINE APPROACH

Among Republicans, 6 in 10 said the United States should not have a diplomatic relationship with Iran, while two-thirds of Democrats said it should.

Half of Republicans said sanctions against Iran should be increased, while Democrats and independents were more likely to say they should be kept the same as now.

MOST DISAPPROVE OF OBAMA’S HANDLING

No polls have been conducted since the deal was reached Tuesday, but the new AP-GfK poll suggests President Barack Obama has an uphill struggle to earn the public’s trust on the issue.

Before the agreement was announced, 6 in 10 Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Iran, while just over a third approved.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Republicans registered disapproval of Obama’s handling of the relationship, but about 7 in 10 independents did, too. Two-thirds of Democrats approved of Obama’s handling of the issue.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online Thursday to Monday, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Iran deal sets 2016 clash between Clinton and GOP hopefuls
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s endorsement of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran underscores the deeply tangled links between President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy and the presidential aspirations of his former secretary of state.

Between meetings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Clinton stressed that the agreement would need to be “enforced vigorously, relentlessly,” noting that Obama called her last night to inform her that a deal had been reached. “As president, I would be absolutely devoted to assuring the agreement is followed.”

Clinton has largely supported the Obama administration’s negotiations over the past two years. She has stayed involved with their progress with regular briefings, according to aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss private meetings.

But navigating the political nuances of a historic agreement with a decades-long U.S. enemy heading into a presidential election year may end up being far more complicated.

On Tuesday, Republican candidates signaled that Clinton would be forced to defend her position in the general election, warning of violent chaos in the Middle East and calling on Congress to try to halt the agreement.

“This isn’t diplomacy — it is appeasement,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the many Republicans who lashed out about the agreement.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the bargain “will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — who, like Walker, has vowed to rescind the agreement should he be elected president, said: “I believe this deal undermines our national security.”

Though a slim majority of Americans back diplomacy with Iran, 56 percent consider Iran an enemy of the U.S., according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Israeli leaders — who hold sway with some Jewish voters — see the agreement as a threat to their country’s very existence. And Republicans have already spent months trying to link Clinton to Obama, who has seen approval ratings for his foreign policy sink in his second term.

Clinton’s current place in the Iran debate marks a striking role reversal for the second-time presidential candidate and her long ago rival. In 2008, she called Obama’s offer to meet with Iran’s leader without preconditions “irresponsible and, frankly, naive.” And when Clinton said she would “obliterate” Iran if the country used nuclear weapons against Israel, Obama likened her “bluster” to the “tough talk” of then-President George W. Bush.

Four years later, as secretary of state, Clinton helped begin the talks that are nearing completion in Vienna. She dispatched a top adviser, Jake Sullivan, to participate in the secret meetings with Iran through the sultan of Oman that led to the start of the international negotiations.

Sullivan, who could serve as Clinton’s national security adviser if she’s elected, declined to speak for Clinton during a breakfast with reporters. When asked for his own views, Sullivan said, “I believe that this deal is the best and most effective way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. That’s my personal view.”

Clinton, however, has long wondered publically whether a deal would ever take shape. She told an American Jewish organization last year that she was “skeptical the Iranians will follow through and deliver.” She said she had “seen many false hopes dashed through the years.”

Now, skeptical congressional Democrats are looking to Clinton for direction as they weigh the completed agreement. With the deal between the world powers now finalized, Congress has 60 days to assess the accord and decide whether to pursue legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran or try to prevent Obama from suspending existing ones. If Clinton wins, her commitment to implementing the agreement will play a huge factor in its potential success.

“She’s one of two of the most important, most influential voices in this debate, the other being President Obama,” said New York Rep. Steve Israel, who met with Clinton on Tuesday morning. “Her opinion is critically important.”

Though Clinton praised the deal, she warned that the agreement would not end Iran’s “bad behavior” in the region, such as sponsoring terrorists, and noted that the country remains a major threat to Israel.

Democrats said Clinton offered a far more positive assessment behind closed doors, though they noted that Clinton did not explicitly urge them to vote in favor of the deal.

“She endorsed it. Full-throated,” said Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, who attended the closed-door meeting. “She was not equivocal at all in her support of the deal as she understands it.”

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Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Las Vegas and Laurie Kellman and David Espo in Washington contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: Americans show strong support for home Olympics
While Bostonians are hesitant to host the Olympics, Americans across the country overwhelmingly support the idea of the games on home turf, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The support decreases when people are asked if they would want the Olympics in their local area. It dips even further when they are asked if public funds should be used to pay for them.

Nearly nine of 10 Americans — 89 percent — support a bid to host the Olympics somewhere in the United States. Yet just 61 percent would support a bid in their local area. Fifty-two percent of respondents would support an Olympics in their local area if it were paid for with a combination of public and private funds, while 46 percent would be opposed to either that proposal or a local Olympics.

“Our own research tells us that the Olympic brand is incredibly strong in the United States and it’s one of the reasons that we decided to bid for the 2024 Games,” U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. “This poll confirms that and shows there is a strong desire, from coast to coast, to see the Games return to the U.S.”

But the nationwide numbers do not echo what’s happening in Boston, where the effort to host the 2024 Olympics has hit a number of roadblocks. Approval ratings around the city have been grim — well under 50 percent — and a referendum has been set up for next November. If that vote doesn’t win both in the city and the state, organizers have vowed to pull the bid, even though the official deadline to declare a city’s candidacy is this September.

That’s one of the key issues the U.S. Olympic Committee board will tackle Tuesday at a meeting at which the Boston group will present an update. The USOC recently received poll numbers on a survey it commissioned. The result of those numbers will also factor into whether the board decides to continue with a Boston bid, look elsewhere, or withdraw from the competition completely. A backup plan could be to consider Los Angeles.

In the AP-GfK poll, 56 percent of respondents said hosting the Olympics is worth the cost to the local areas, and 42 percent said it is not.

“This poll shows clearly that Americans are eager to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the United States,” said Erin Murphy, the chief operating officer of Boston 2024. “Boston 2024 is proud to represent the U.S. as we work to build a bid that is fiscally responsible and provides world-class venues and a lasting legacy for the Games and the city of Boston.”

One main complaint in Boston is that hosting an Olympics leaves the public vulnerable to footing too much of the bill and is not the proper way to pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements. Last winter’s massive snowstorms shined a light on the city’s less-than-ideal transit system and also brought up more general questions about Boston’s ability to handle major projects.

Last month, Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca took over as bid leader. Boston has been revamping its bid, spreading some of the venues farther across the state than originally expected, and vowing that there will be more changes between now and September 2017, when the Olympics are awarded. Boston’s newest plans will be unveiled Monday.

Paris, Rome and Hamburg, Germany are the other declared candidates.

The International Olympic Committee normally takes poll numbers very seriously when deciding who the most viable candidates are to host the games.

One poll in Chicago done shortly before the vote for the 2016 Olympics showed less than 50 percent support for hosting, a number that dropped drastically after the mayor changed course and agreed to sign a standard host city contract that left the city to bear financial responsibility for any losses. Those numbers were one of many factors — most of which were related to the USOC’s then-poor relationship with the IOC — that caused Chicago to finish last in the voting.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,005 adults was conducted online from June 19 to 21 using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.


AP-GfK: Poll shows divide over increasing money for transit

WASHINGTON (AP) — A slight majority of Americans prefer living in a single-family house in the suburbs or a rural area with more land, even if it means driving long distances to get to work or run errands, according to a poll by The Associated Press-GfK.

However, a significant minority, 44 percent, would choose an apartment or smaller house in an urban area that comes with a short drive to work or the opportunity to use public transportation, bike or walk. The split also has a political aspect: Sixty-seven percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents prefer suburban or rural living, while 55 percent of Democrats prefer urban areas.

The share of Americans who prefer suburban or rural living — 53 percent — is identical to the share who say the government should increase spending to build and improve roads, bridges and interstate highways. About 1 in 3 think current spending levels are about right, while just over 1 in 10 would like to see less money spent on roads.

Many states are struggling just to maintain current spending levels, and Congress has been unable to come up with a long-term plan to pay for highway aid that closes the gap between current spending and federal gas tax revenue.

Americans are more divided over building and improving public transportation such as rail and bus systems. Four in 10 say spending on public transportation should be increased, but just as many say current spending is about right. Only 18 percent say transit spending should be cut.

Contrary to the widely held notion that the millennial generation is flocking to cities and giving up their cars, younger people are not significantly more or less likely than older people to prefer urban living with a shorter commute and access to public transit, the poll found.

Matthew Wild, 33, an airline pilot living in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, said he favors increasing spending on both public transit and highways. The region’s freeways “take a real beating” from the traffic and need to be maintained, he said, but no new lanes should be added.

“We definitely don’t need to be expanding freeways anymore,” Wild said. “We’ve maxed out.”

He cited a highway near his home that was recently widened and now is as full as ever. He does, however, strongly support building more light rail transit locally and high-speed rail between California cities.

Wild said he’d much rather take a convenient local train than fight traffic in his car. He currently takes trains only a few times a year because there are no direct routes from where he lives to the places he wants to go, and indirect routes take too long, he said.

“The big problem with L.A. is that, given the lack of public transportation, sitting in traffic in your own car is still faster than taking public transit,” Wild said.

Jane McEntire, 62, who lives in Cartersville, Georgia, on the northwest fringe of the Atlanta metropolitan area, says traffic is horrible and getting worse.

Even so, she’d rather keep spending on roads and cut spending on public transportation. She says she’s lost confidence in the ability of state and local transportation officials to make improvements and not fritter money away on wasteful projects.

She is particularly incensed that officials used federal transit aid to build a slow-moving streetcar line in downtown Atlanta that is used primarily by tourists.

“I think they look really cute, but as far as usefulness — no,” she said. “When you have federal dollars that are coming into a state that are available and you spend it on these cars in Atlanta that go six or eight blocks back and forth … Why didn’t they take that money and spend it on something to help commuters?”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online from April 23 to 27 using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy


AP-GfK Poll: Many approve Iran deal; Most don’t trust Tehran
WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Americans like the idea of the preliminary deal that would limit Iran’s nuclear program but very few people really believe Tehran will follow through with the agreement.

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that just 3 percent said they were very confident that Iran would allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, remove plutonium from the country and shut down close to half of its uranium-enriching centrifuges as the preliminary deal says would be required. Nearly seven in 10 people said they were not confident, while 25 percent said they were only moderately confident.

The U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China are aiming to finalize a deal with Iran by June 30 that puts limits on Iranian programs that could be used to make nuclear arms. In exchange, economic sanctions on Iran would be lifted over time. Tehran denies any interest in such weapons but is negotiating in hopes of relief from billions of dollars in economic sanctions.

The next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will start Tuesday in Vienna.

Although more than half of Americans polled say they approve of making the deal, few people — 16 percent — are actually paying close attention to the complex Iran negotiations that have angered Israel and unnerved Gulf nations who are concerned about Tehran’s rising influence and aggressive behavior in the region.

The Senate last week passed legislation that would give Congress time to vote to reject any deal before sanctions are lifted. President Barack Obama would retain the right to veto lawmakers’ disapproval.

Israel’s strong objections to the deal could make a difference to many Americans. If forced to choose, a majority say it’s more important to maintain the U.S. relationship with Israel than to strike a deal with Iran. But respondents are divided along party lines, with nearly six in 10 Democrats saying the Iran deal is more important while seven in 10 Republicans believe ties with Israel are more critical.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the harshest critics of the deal with Iran. Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat, citing hostile Iranian rhetoric toward the Jewish state, Iran’s missile capabilities and its support for violent militant groups.

More broadly, the poll found that Americans are increasingly interested in the U.S. role in world affairs, with 60 percent saying it’s an extremely important issue, up from 52 percent less than five months ago. Slightly more people also approve of Obama’s handling of the issue, increasing from 38 percent in December to 42 percent in the latest poll. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue.

But overall, Americans are more likely to trust Republicans than Democrats to handle protecting the country.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Can Supreme Court be fair in health law case?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many people in the United States doubt that the Supreme Court can rule fairly in the latest litigation jeopardizing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The Associated Press-GfK poll finds only 1 person in 10 is highly confident that the justices will rely on objective interpretations of the law rather than their personal opinions. Nearly half, 48 percent, are not confident of the court’s impartiality.

“That lawsuit should have never made it this far,” said Hal Lewis, a retiree from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“If they rule for the people who are bringing the suit, it could be close to the destruction of Obamacare in this country,” added Lewis, who once edited a local newspaper in his city.

Lewis is one of the relatively few people — 13 percent — who say they are closely following the case, called King v. Burwell.

Opponents of the law argue that as literally written, the law only allows the federal government to subsidize premiums in states that have set up their own insurance markets, also known as exchanges. Most states have not done so, relying instead on the federal HealthCare.gov website.

The Obama administration says opponents are misreading the Affordable Care Act by focusing on just a few words. When the legislation is read in context, it’s clear that lawmakers wanted to help uninsured people in every state, the administration maintains.

If the court sides with the plaintiffs, it’s estimated that 8 million to 9 million people across more than 30 states could lose coverage. They would be unable to afford their premiums without the subsidies, which are keyed to household income. A decision is expected late in June.

In a twist, the poll found that opponents of the law, who tend to be politically conservative, have less confidence in the objectivity of a court with a conservative majority. Among foes, 60 percent are not confident, compared with 44 percent of the law’s supporters.

“That is incredibly powerful that a court associated with conservative views is not well trusted by Republicans,” said Robert Blendon, who tracks public opinion on health care at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Blendon said the law’s opponents may be remembering the court’s 2012 ruling in which Chief Justice John Roberts cast the key vote to uphold the law.

Regardless of how the public feels about the court’s internal deliberations, a majority wants the justices to allow subsidies to continue flowing in all 50 states, an opinion in line with the administration’s position.

Fifty-six percent said the court should keep the subsidies without restriction, while 39 percent said the financial aid should be limited to residents of states that set up their own health insurance markets.

It’s less clear what people would want Congress to do if the court were to side with the law’s opponents. A ruling for the plaintiffs would invalidate health insurance subsidies in states without their own exchanges. Many of those states have Republican governors and legislatures that have resisted the health care law.

The poll found that a bare majority, 51 percent, wants Congress to amend the law to make it clear that people are entitled to help regardless of what their state leaders do.

But 44 percent prefer that Congress leave the law as is and let states decide whether they want to create insurance exchanges that would allow their residents to receive subsidies.

“It suggests there’s a political opening for Republicans to offer a way for people to continue receiving subsidies through some sort of state arrangement,” Blendon said.

State leaders would have to move fast. Some legal experts say it would be only weeks before the subsidies dry up; others say it’s possible the administration could continue payments through the end of this year.

Ethan Levesque of Augusta, Maine, said he is troubled by the federal law’s requirement that virtually all U.S. residents get health insurance or risk fines from the IRS.

“I feel like it should actually be the determination of the states to decide health coverage,” said Levesque, a customer service representative for a telecommunications company.

“There is definitely nothing wrong with health care whatsoever, but it’s the way that this has been presented to people that I have problems with,” he said.

The poll found sharp splits on whether Congress should intervene.

Two-thirds of Democrats think Congress should amend the law to save the subsidies, but only 31 percent of Republicans shared that view. Half of independents want Congress to update the law if necessary, while 41 percent think it should be kept as is.

Leading congressional Republicans have said they would step in to prevent health insurance markets from unraveling, but they have not spelled out details.

It’s estimated that 15 million to 17 million adults have gained coverage since the fall of 2013, when the law’s big insurance expansion began. But the nation is divided over Obama’s major domestic policy achievement.

The poll found 27 percent of Americans support the law, while 38 percent oppose it and 34 percent say they neither support nor oppose it.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Immigration not a deal breaker for Republicans

By EMILY SWANSON  Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are split down the middle on whether they would prefer to vote for a candidate who wants to keep or undo President Barack Obama’s executive action to let some immigrants living in the U.S. illegally stay in the country, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

But even Republicans don’t necessarily see a candidate’s support for that action as a deal breaker for their votes.

The poll was conducted before former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that she supports a path to citizenship and that, if elected president, she would expand the protections for immigrants laid out in Obama’s executive action.

Five things to know about public opinion on immigration:

HALF SUPPORT PATH TO CITIZENSHIP, LEGAL STATUS

Most Americans – 53 percent – say they favor providing a way for immigrants who are already in the United States illegally to become U.S. citizens, while 44 percent are opposed.

And although Clinton drew a stark line Tuesday between support for citizenship and support for legal status to stay, the poll shows that distinction makes little difference in people’s support for a change in immigration policy.

Among Americans asked if they favor a way for those already in the United States to stay legally, 50 percent were in favor and 48 percent opposed – not a significant difference from support for a path to citizenship.

DIVISION OVER OBAMA EXECUTIVE ACTION

Forty-nine percent say they’re more likely to support someone who wants to keep Obama’s immigration action in place, while 47 percent would rather vote for someone who wants to undo it, the AP-GfK poll shows.

That’s true even though most Americans support the policies that make up the executive action. Fifty-nine percent favor providing a way for immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to stay legally, and 57 percent support allowing those who are in the country but whose children are U.S. citizens or permanent residents to stay.

Americans on both sides of the executive action issue are just as likely to say that they could imagine voting for a candidate who disagrees with them as say they could not.

NOT A DEAL BREAKER FOR REPUBLICANS

Even among Republicans, many say they could see themselves voting for a candidate who wants to keep Obama’s action in place.

Three-quarters of Republicans say they would prefer to vote for a candidate who would undo it, but a combined 55 percent would either prefer to support a candidate who would keep it in place or could imagine themselves voting for such a candidate.

Even among conservative Republicans, nearly half – 47 percent – could at least imagine voting for a candidate who would keep the action in place.

Significant minorities of Republicans – about 4 in 10 – support allowing immigrants brought to the United States as children, along with parents of citizens or permanent residents, to stay legally.

LINE IN THE SAND FOR HISPANICS

Three-quarters of Hispanics in the poll say that they would prefer to support a candidate who would keep Obama’s executive action in place, and a majority – 53 percent of Hispanics overall – say they definitely could not support a candidate who wants to undo it.

Eight in 10 Hispanics in the poll favor allowing those brought to the country as children, and those who are parents of citizens or permanent residents, to stay legally.

Hispanics are more likely to trust Democrats than Republicans on handling immigration, 36 percent to 21 percent. But nearly a third don’t trust either party on the issue.

Among all Americans, 30 percent trust Democrats more and 26 percent trust Republicans more, while29 percent trust neither party and 15 percent trust both equally.

MOST DISAPPROVE OF OBAMA’S HANDLING OF IMMIGRATION

Americans are more likely to disapprove than approve of how the president is handling immigration, 57 percent to 42 percent. That’s unchanged since the last AP-GfK poll early in February.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans call immigration a very or extremely important issue to them personally, up slightly since 52 percent in February.

Among Hispanics, 6 in 10 approve of how Obama is handling immigration. In October, before he announced the immigration action, only 3 in 10 did.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Some questions were asked of a half sample and have a higher margin of error.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/EL-Swan


AP-GfK Poll: Americans approve of drone strikes on terrorists

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly three-quarters of Americans say it’s acceptable for the U.S. to use an unmanned aerial drone to kill an American citizen abroad if that person has joined a terror organization, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

A majority, 6 in 10, supports the use of drones to target terrorists in general. Only 13 percent oppose the use of drones, the poll said, and another 24 percent don’t feel strongly either way.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted April 23-27, in the days after President Barack Obama publicly apologized for a CIA drone strike in Pakistan that inadvertently killed American hostage Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto. The strike also killed Ahmed Farouq, an American citizen who was an al-Qaida planning leader. Another strike killed Adam Gadhani, an American citizen who joined al-Qaida and became Osama Bin Laden’s spokesman.

The survey is the latest in several years of data showing broad support among the U.S. public for a targeted killing program begun under President George W. Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama. While the U.S. once condemned Israel for targeted killing from the air, such operations are now the centerpiece of American counterterrorism policy, and they enjoy widespread public backing.

Support for targeted killing with drones crosses party lines, the new poll found. Nearly 6 in 10 Democrats favor using drones to bomb members of terrorist groups, while only 16 percent are opposed. Among Republicans, 72 percent are in favor and only 10 percent are opposed. Independents are more ambivalent, with 45 percent in favor and 12 percent opposed; 37 percent are neutral on the issue.

Just 47 percent of Americans think it’s appropriate to use drones to target terrorists overseas if innocent Americans might be killed in the process.

More than 4 in 10 (43 percent) of those who initially said they favor using drones — or that they didn’t favor or oppose using them — said it’s unacceptable to use drones if innocent Americans could be killed.

The poll did not include questions about foreign civilian casualties or about public confidence in the government’s assertion that the vast majority of those killed in drone strikes are terrorists. Independent groups have estimated that at least hundreds, and possibly thousands, of noncombatants have been killed in the operations, a count the U.S. government disputes.

Drone skeptics say most polls on the subject frame the question with the assumption that those targeted are terrorists, when it’s not clear that is always the case.

“Almost everyone, of course, is going to support killing people who are trying to kill us, but that’s not who we are necessarily targeting in each case,” said Sarah Kreps, an associate professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University.

Kreps examined poll data and found that if respondents are confronted with evidence of errors and civilian casualties in some drone strikes, support for the strikes drops below a majority.

Since the first operation in 2002, there have been 396 drone strikes in Pakistan and 126 in Yemen, according to the New America Foundation, which tracks the strikes using media reports. The CIA has conducted all of the strikes in Pakistan and most of them in Yemen, though the military also conducts drone strikes in Yemen.

The pace of strikes in both countries has diminished in recent years. Obama imposed a standard in Yemen that no strike would occur unless there was a near certainty that no civilian would be harmed. That standard — more restrictive than the rules governing traditional military action — was not in place in Pakistan, which is considered part of the Afghan war theater. In Pakistan, the drop-off in strikes has been attributed to the success of the program in destroying much of core al-Qaida.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans evenly split on gay marriage case
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are evenly split on whether the Supreme Court should rule that same-sex marriage must be legal nationwide, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The poll was conducted just before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a case that will likely decide whether state laws banning same-sex marriage are constitutional.

But the poll also finds that Americans are more likely to favor than oppose marriage for gay and lesbian couples being legal in their own states.

Here are five things to know about public opinion on same-sex marriage:

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NEARLY HALF SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE

According to the new AP-GfK poll, nearly half of Americans favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. Just over a third are opposed.

But Americans are split down the middle on what action the Supreme Court should take when it rules on the marriage case later this year, with 50 percent saying it should rule that same-sex marriage must be legal nationwide and 48 percent saying that it should not.

The poll shows a massive partisan divide on both questions. Two-thirds of Democrats and just under half of independents say they support legal same-sex marriage, compared to less than 3 in 10 Republicans.

Only 15 percent of conservative Republicans want same-sex marriages to be legal, while 46 percent of moderate Republicans say they are in favor.

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SUPPORT DIPS FOR WEDDING BUSINESSES REFUSING SERVICE

The poll shows that a slim majority of Americans (52 percent) say that wedding-related businesses in states where same-sex marriage is legal should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples because of religious objections.

That’s down slightly since the beginning of February, when another AP-GfK poll found 57 percent of Americans in support of allowing wedding-related businesses to refuse service. The earlier poll was conducted before a public outcry forced the state of Indiana to add protections for gays and lesbians to its recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics charged was intended to allow discrimination against LGBT people.

That drop appears to have been driven by Democrats, 45 percent of whom supported allowing businesses to refuse service in the earlier poll, while 38 percent say so now. About three-quarters of Republicans say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service, along with 45 percent of independents.

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LESS SUPPORT FOR NON-WEDDING BUSINESSES

The new AP-GfK survey shows Americans are less likely to support allowing a non-wedding related business to refuse service to a gay or lesbian couple. Just 40 percent of poll respondents asked a similar question that did not mention weddings think businesses should be allowed to refuse service for religious reasons, while 57 percent think that should not be allowed.

Support for allowing businesses to generally refuse service to gays was at least slightly lower than for wedding-related businesses to refuse service among Democrats, Republicans and independents, although a majority of Republicans (63 percent) still said a business of any kind with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples.

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RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES OVER GAY RIGHTS

Although most Americans aren’t willing to give just any business the right to refuse service to LGBT people, most say that it’s more important for the government to protect religious liberties than the rights of gays and lesbians if the two come into conflict, by a 56 percent to 40 percent margin.

More than 8 in 10 Republicans say it’s more important to protect religious liberties than gay rights. On the other hand, 6 in 10 Democrats think protecting gay rights is more important.

Just a quarter of Americans call gay rights a very or extremely important issue to them personally, while half call religious liberties a very or extremely important issue.

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DIVISION OVER OBAMA’S HANDLING OF GAY RIGHTS

The poll finds that Americans are evenly divided on how President Barack Obama is handling gay rights, with 48 percent saying they approve and 49 percent saying they disapprove. A majority (54 percent) approve of how Obama is handling religious liberties.

On both issues, Democrats hold at least a slight advantage over Republicans on which party Americans trust most to handle gay rights issues. Thirty-one percent of Americans say they trust Democrats more to handle gay rights issues, while only 14 percent trust Republicans more.

But a third of Americans say they don’t trust either party to handle gay rights, with another 20 percent saying they trust both equally. On religious liberties, 28 percent say they trust Democrats more and 21 percent trust Republicans more, with 23 percent trusting both equally and 26 percent trusting neither.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: GOP’s Jeb Bush working to reassert conservative credentials

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — As Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush was among the nation’s most conservative state chief executives. He’s quietly embarking on work to convince the right flank of the Republican Party that he would be that same kind of conservative in the White House.

Eight years removed from office, Bush is viewed by some conservatives as a squishy moderate: a member of the GOP’s most established family with toxic positions on immigration and education standards.

For that reason, perhaps none of the likely 2016 candidates has more to gain than Bush at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, the nation’s largest annual conference of conservative activists.

“The challenge for him is this isn’t about yesterday, it’s about tomorrow,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC. “The key is, what will he do if he’s president of the United States, and does he have a message that will appeal to conservatives?”

Bush speaks at CPAC on Friday, and amid his aggressive fundraising efforts nationwide, his team and key backers are also taking steps to remind the party of his history as a conservative in office.

In phone calls and private meetings, Bush’s team is reviving old alliances with top social and economic conservatives, broadening his network of conservative opinion leaders and trying to quiet his more aggressive critics. Al Cardenas, a longtime Bush supporter and former chairman of the American Conservative Union, said it would take Bush six to eight months to “totally set the record straight.”

“As I’ve told the governor, the key word is patience,” Cardenas said. “I can tell you as a matter of fact those meetings have begun to be placed on the calendar and are beginning to take place. He wants leaders of the movement to be comfortable with his leadership.”

Cardenas and other Bush allies say the problem is one of misperception, as conservatives of a new era are simply less familiar with his record as Florida governor.

Aides say that while in office from 1999 to 2007, Bush was among the first state executives to take on teachers unions, lowered taxes each year and signed Florida’s “stand your ground” gun law. He was a hero among social conservatives for his actions to keep Michael Schiavo from removing the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife, Terri.

Today’s criticism centers almost entirely on Bush’s support for Common Core education standards and an immigration policy that would create a path to citizenship for people living in the country illegally. He is also hurt by lingering resentment over the rise in government spending during brother George W. Bush’s administration.

Skeptics were reminded of their misgivings late last year, when Bush said a Republican might need to “lose the primary to win the general,” viewed by some as a swipe at the heavy influence of conservatives in picking the party’s White House nominee.

Just four in 10 self-identified conservatives and tea party supporters rated Bush favorably in an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted earlier this month. There was evidence, too, of anti-Bush sentiment in the crowded hotel lobbies Thursday as thousands of activists gathered for CPAC.

“I have not seen a single Jeb Bush button here,” said Neil McGettigan, 25, of New Jersey. “Honestly, I think the media’s more excited about him than anyone here.”

As they privately court prominent conservatives, Bush’s confidants are also encouraging him to outline his conservative bona fides more publicly. Longtime Bush donor Al Hoffman said he recently told the governor he needs to openly explain how his positions on immigration and Common Core are in line with conservative economic principles.

Bush’s team is also trying to win over some of his most aggressive critics. They include Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, who praises Bush’s economic record as Florida governor, but regularly attacks his refusal to sign a pledge not to raise taxes if elected president. Bush is one of the only top-tier GOP presidential contenders not to sign.

“I’ve had a bunch of people from Jeb’s world call me on behalf of the campaign,” Norquist said. “There are many things he did well as governor. … But it’s all about the pledge. It makes you wonder about whether he’s a team player.”

Some conservatives need no convincing. Bush already enjoys formal and informal support from a growing network of well-connected conservative leaders with whom he maintains regular contact.

“It’d be hard to be better than Bush on the life issue,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national group that advocates for social conservative values and supports candidates who oppose abortion. “He’s said many times — said it to me — that he can be counted on.”

While Schlapp won’t formally endorse a presidential candidate as leader of the American Conservative Union, he said Bush had “sterling conservative credentials” as Florida governor and “took prominent conservative positions in a battleground state.”

“Conservatives play a large role in determining who the Republican nominee is,” said Schlapp, who served as political director in Bush’s brother’s White House. “People will forgive him if they connect to him when he makes his pitch. I think that’s what’s critical.”

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and AP news survey specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report from Washington. Beaumont reported from Palm Beach, Florida.

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Follow Steve Peoples and Thomas Beaumont on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/sppeoples and http://twitter.com/tombeaumont


Kayla Mueller’s brother: Swap with Taliban raised IS demands

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — The brother of an American woman who was killed after spending months as a hostage of Islamic State militants says Kayla Mueller’s situation worsened after the government traded five Taliban commanders for a captive U.S. soldier.

The militants increased their demands after the May swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Eric Mueller told NBC’s “Today” in an interview that aired Monday.

“That made the whole situation worse because that’s when the demands got greater,” he said. “They got larger. They realized that they had something.”

Mueller’s death was confirmed Feb. 10 by her family and U.S. officials. The Islamic State group claimed she died in a Jordanian airstrike, but U.S. officials have not confirmed that. The Pentagon said it didn’t know how she was killed.

The 26-year-old international aid worker, who grew up in Prescott, Arizona, was captured in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

Mueller’s brother and parents spoke to “Today” host Savannah Guthrie. The family has declined repeated requests for an interview with The Associated Press.

Mueller’s father, Carl Mueller, said that the United States’ willingness to swap for Bergdahl but not pay ransom or allow ransom to be paid for his daughter “was pretty hard to take.”

“I actually asked the president that question when we were in the White House,” he said without elaborating.

Mueller’s parents said in the interview that the U.S. government put policy ahead of American lives.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that the Mueller family had been put in a difficult position by the U.S. policy against making concessions to terrorists, but he defended it as being in the best interests of the nation.

“The president is confident that his administration did do everything that was possible within the confines of that policy — using our military might, using our intelligence capability, using our diplomatic influence — to try to secure the safe release and return of Kayla Mueller,” Earnest said.

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that only 3 in 10 Americans think the United States should pay a ransom to save an American hostage overseas, even if it’s the only way to rescue the hostage. A quarter of Americans say there are circumstances when the United States should directly negotiate with a terrorist group.

The poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Obama administration has defended the Bergdahl swap. Some U.S. lawmakers were outraged by the exchange of five Taliban commanders held at the Guantanamo Bay prison for the Idaho native who left his post in Afghanistan and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported the exchange, insisting that the United States has a sacred commitment to men and women who serve that it never will leave anyone behind on the battlefield.


AP-GfK Poll: Most back Obama plan to raise investment taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The rich aren’t taxed enough and the middle class is taxed too much. As for your taxes, you probably think they’re too high as well.

Those are the results of an Associated Press-GfK poll that found that most people in the United States support President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise investment taxes on high-income families.

The findings echo the populist messages of two liberal senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — being courted by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to run for president in 2016. The results also add weight to Obama’s new push to raise taxes on the rich and use some of the revenue to lower taxes on the middle class.

Obama calls his approach “middle-class economics.”

It’s not flying with Republicans in Congress, who oppose higher taxes.

But Bob Montgomery of Martinsville, Virginia, said people with higher incomes should pay more.

“I think the more you make the more taxes you should pay,” said Montgomery, who is retired after working 40 years at an auto dealership. “I can’t see where a man makes $50,000 a year pays as much taxes as somebody that makes $300,000 a year.”

According to the poll, 68 percent of those questioned said wealthy households pay too little in federal taxes; only 11 percent said the wealthy pay too much.

Also, 60 percent said middle-class households pay too much in federal taxes, while 7 percent said they paid too little.

Obama laid out a series of tax proposals as part of his 2016 budget released this month. Few are likely to win approval in the Republican-controlled Congress. But if fellow Democrats were to embrace his ideas, they could play a role in the 2016 race.

One proposal would increase capital gains taxes on households making more than $500,000. In the survey, 56 percent favored the proposal, while only 16 percent opposed it.

Democrats, at 71 percent, were the most likely to support raising taxes on capital gains. Among Republicans and independents, 46 percent supported it.

Obama’s other tax plans didn’t fare as well.

About 27 percent said they favored making estates pay capital gains taxes on assets when they are inherited, and 36 percent opposed it.

Just 19 percent said they supported the president’s aborted plan to scale back the tax benefits of popular college savings plans, 529 accounts, named after a section in federal tax law. Obama withdrew the proposal after Republicans and some Democrats in Congress opposed it.

“I think that’s a poor idea,” said Jamie Starr of suburban Atlanta. “Being that I’m a mother of five children, that is a wonderful program.”

“That’s kids trying to make their own away in this world without having student loans,” she said.

Obama’s proposal to levy a new tax on banks was supported by 47 percent of those surveyed. Only 13 percent opposed it, while 36 percent were undecided.

It’s tax season, that time of the year when people are confronted by their obligations to the government. The poll found that 56 percent of us think our own federal taxes are too high, and 4 percent said they pay too little.

If taxes are increased, a slight majority said the additional money should help pay down the national debt. Using the money to cut other taxes or fund government programs were less popular options.

Republicans, in general, are more likely than Democrats to oppose higher taxes, except when it comes to low-income families.

Only 19 percent of respondents said low-income families pay too little in federal taxes, but there was a significant split between the political parties. Just 10 percent of Democrats said low-income families pay too little, while 33 percent of Republicans said they don’t pay enough.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the poorest 20 percent of households paid less than 1 percent of all federal taxes in 2011, the latest year for data. The top 10 percent paid more than half of all federal taxes.

That’s OK, said Sen. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, because wealthy people have seen their incomes soar while the rest of the country’s wages have been much more flat.

“Most people understand that at a time when the rich are becoming much richer, the middle class is continuing to disappear,” Sanders said. “And people also understand that the very wealthy and large corporations are able to take advantage of huge loopholes, which enable them not to pay their fair share of taxes.”

Obama has been pushing to raise taxes on the rich since his first campaign for president in 2008. He has had some success. In January 2013, Obama persuaded Republicans in Congress to let income tax rates go up for families making more than $450,000 a year. It was part of a deal that made permanent a large package of tax cuts first enacted under Republican President George W. Bush.

Some liberals are looking for a candidate to push for higher taxes on the rich in the 2016 race. Sanders and Democrat Warren would fit the profile, though Warren says she is not running for president and Sanders says he has not made up his mind.

Among Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen as the front-runner for the nomination; she has yet to make her candidacy official.

Clinton hasn’t offered specifics on how she would approach taxes as a candidate. But she offered a glimpse of her views following Obama’s State of the Union Address in January, when she tweeted that Obama “pointed way to an economy that works for all. Now we need to step up & deliver for the middle class. #FairShot #FairShare.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap


AP-GfK Poll: Most Americans favor a higher minimum wage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans support increasing the minimum wage, as well as requiring employers to provide paid sick leave and parental leave, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

All three were proposed by President Barack Obama during his recent State of the Union address as ways to increase protections for American workers. But the poll also found that most Americans don’t approve of the job Obama is doing helping the middle class.

Here are five things to know about public opinion on Obama’s workplace proposals:

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PAID SICK LEAVE AND HIGHER WAGES GET STRONG SUPPORT

Proposals to increase the federal minimum wage, as well as to require employers to give paid leave to their employees, find few objections among Americans as a whole.

Six in 10 Americans favor raising the minimum wage, including nearly half who are strongly in favor, the AP-GfK Poll shows, while only 2 in 10 are opposed. Six in 10 also favor requiring all employers to give paid time off to employees when they are sick, while two-thirds favor requiring all employers to give time off to employees after the birth of a child.

Among Republicans, about half support requiring employers to give paid sick leave and 55 percent support a requirement for paid parental leave.

But the minimum wage divides Republicans more closely, with only 4 in 10 in favor, 31 percent opposed and 27 percent not leaning either way. Half of moderate-to-liberal Republicans, but just a third of conservative Republicans, favor a minimum wage increase.

About 8 in 10 Democrats and a majority of independents favor each of these workplace proposals.

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MOST DISAPPROVE OF OBAMA’S HANDLING OF MIDDLE CLASS, POOR

Obama’s workplace proposals were part of a set of measures he says will help strengthen the middle class. Most Americans see that as a valuable goal, with 72 percent saying the government does too little to help the middle class. Slightly fewer — about 6 in 10 — say the government does too little to help the poor, and more than half think too little is done to help the unemployed.

(Two-thirds say the government is doing too much to help the wealthy.)

Those who think the government isn’t doing enough to help the middle class or the poor are especially likely to support raising the minimum wage and requiring companies to offer paid leave.

But the poll finds most Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling helping both groups. Still, the poll finds Americans tend to trust Democrats over Republicans to help the middle class by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, and trusted Democrats over the GOP to help the poor by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

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FEWER SEE NEED FOR NEW GENDER EQUALITY LAWS

Forty-eight percent of Americans think current laws to ensure that men and women are treated equally in the workplace are about right, more than the 41 percent who think the government needs to enact more laws to ensure equal treatment. Another 7 percent would repeal existing laws.

Nearly half of women (48 percent) say the government needs more laws to ensure workplace equality between men and women, but only 35 percent of men say the same.

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GENDER DIVIDES DEMOCRATS, MODERATES

Among Republicans, men and women are about equally unlikely to support additional workplace equality laws, with more than 6 in 10 Republicans of both men and women saying current laws are about right.

But among Democrats, women are more supportive of new workplace equality laws than men, 66 percent to 49 percent. Overall, about 6 in 10 Democrats say new laws are necessary.

Among those who consider themselves political moderates, too, there is a gender gap on the issue, with 53 percent of moderate women and only 32 percent of moderate men saying new laws are necessary.

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MAJORITY FAVOR FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

More than half of Americans — 56 percent — favor a plan put forward by Obama for the government to pay for community college for any student who maintains a certain grade point average and makes progress toward earning a degree, the AP-GfK poll shows. Three-quarters of Democrats, half of independents and a third of Republicans favor the proposal.

Nearly half of moderate and liberal Republicans, but only 3 in 10 conservative Republicans, are in favor of the community college proposal.

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans think the government doesn’t do enough to help students, the poll found.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: White House asking authorization for military to fight IS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House circulated a proposal Tuesday to authorize the Pentagon to fight Islamic State terrorists without an “enduring offensive combat” role, an ambiguous phrase designed to satisfy lawmakers with widely varying views on the need for U.S. ground operations.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J, describing the proposal to reporters, said President Barack Obama would seek an authorization for the use of force that would expire after three years. It would end the approval for operations in Iraq that Congress passed in 2002.

Menendez spoke after he and other Democratic senators met privately with top White House aides, on the eve of an anticipated formal request for legislation from the president.

“Hopefully there will not be a significant delay in Congress acting,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

The meetings unfolded against a fresh reminder of the threat posed by terrorists who occupy large areas of Syria and Iraq — the confirmed death of a 26-year-old American aid worker who had been held hostage by the group.

Obama pledged to bring anyone responsible for Kayla Mueller’s captivity and death to justice “no matter how long it takes.”

Of immediate concern was a legislative struggle — the search for a compromise that could satisfy Democrats who oppose the use of American ground forces in the fight against IS, and Republicans who favor at least leaving the possibility open.

Menendez, in describing the White House’s opaque formulation, said it remained subject to modification. “That’s where the rub will be” as the White House tries to win approval for the legislation, he said.

One influential Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said it was “bizarre” for Obama to be asking lawmakers to limit his own power as commander in chief.

A senior Democrat, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, said she has significant questions about the president’s proposal. “I don’t know what the word ‘enduring’ means. I am very apprehensive about a vague, foggy word,” she said.

Menendez also said it was not yet clear if the proposal would cancel a 2001 authorization for the use of force that Congress approved shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Republicans control both houses of Congress, and presidents generally court bipartisan support for legislation of the type Obama now seeks.

Several other lawmakers who were briefed in earlier meetings, said the president would likely seek legislation targeted exclusively against the fighters seeking establishment of an Islamic state, wherever they are and whatever name they use.

Public sentiment indicates general support for the airstrikes that have been underway for months, but less for the use of American ground troops on the heels of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In an AP-GfK poll taken in late January and early February, 58 percent of those surveyed said they favor U.S. involvement in airstrikes, which Obama ordered months ago. Only 31 percent backed deployment of U.S. troops on the ground.

Apart from the midday meeting with Democrats in the Capitol attended by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, some Republicans expressed concern with other elements of the administration’s emerging proposal.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said administration officials had told him it would not provide for the protection of U.S.-trained Syrian rebel troops on the ground in the event of an air attack by Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

“It’s an unsound military strategy. I think it’s immoral if the authorization doesn’t allow for us to counter Assad’s air power,” he said.

There was little evident dispute in Congress that new legislation was needed, both to replace outdated authorization and also to underscore a bipartisan desire to defeat the terrorists seeking an Islamic state. The group has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, imposed a violent form of Sharia law and beheaded several hostages from the United States and other Western countries. Last week, it distributed a horrifying videotape showing the killing-by-burning of a Jordanian pilot.

Mueller’s death was the latest event to produce calls for retaliation.

Among members of Obama’s party, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said during the day that some rank-and-file lawmakers want to set geographic limits and restrict the types of forces that can be used.

“They want some time limit so we can reconsider at some point in time, whether it’s 24 months, 36 months, 48 months,” he said at a news conference.

Republicans praised Obama’s willingness to seek legislation, up to a point.

“This president, you know, is prone to unilateral action. But when it comes to national security matters, and particularly now fighting this barbaric threat — not only the region but to our own security — I think it’s important to come to Congress and get bipartisan support,” said John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican leader.

Many Republicans have said they prefer legislation that at least permits the use of ground troops if Obama decides they may be necessary. Some, including McCain, have gone further, saying ground troops are needed if the Islamic State fighters are to be defeated.

Obama so far has relied on congressional authorizations that President George W. Bush used to justify military action after 9/11. He said last year he had the legal authority necessary to deploy more than 2,700 U.S. troops to train and assist Iraqi security forces and conduct ongoing airstrikes against targets in Iraq and Syria.

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Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Laurie Kellman and Alan Fram contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: Most now approve of Obama’s job on unemployment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans’ views of President Barack Obama have improved slightly in the past two months, and opinions are more positive about the direction of the country and the health of the economy, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

A slim majority now approves of the way Obama is handling unemployment, according to the poll, conducted before Friday’s release of a surprisingly strong jobs report.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed approve of how Obama is doing his job, compared with 41 percent in December, and 51 percent approve of his handling of unemployment, compared with 44 percent before.

Nearly half say the economy is good now, while 41 percent thought that in December. In December 2013, only one-third called the economy good.

Approval of the way Obama is handling the economy improved slightly, 41 percent to 45 percent, over the past two months.

Friday’s report showed that U.S. employers added 257,000 jobs in January, and hourly wages grew by 12 cents to $24.75, the biggest gain since September 2008. Hourly pay has increased 2.2 percent in the past year.

“We’ve come a long way these past six years since we suffered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” Obama said Friday in Indianapolis. “In 2014, our economy created more than 3.1 million jobs, and that’s the best year of job growth since the 1990s,” adding that “America is poised for another good year.”

Despite the increase in jobs, the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent, largely because more people began looking for jobs. An increase in the number of job hunters can indicate that people are more confident in their ability to find work, even if the official unemployment rate goes up.

But people still feel that their own recovery is lagging, the poll shows, with only 35 percent saying their own family has completely or mostly recovered from economic downturn.

Just 27 percent see the job market where they live as being most of the way to recovery, far less than the number that thinks big businesses (55 percent) and the stock market (53 percent) have bounced all the way back.

People also fear the possibility of another downturn. Three-quarters say the government has not put the right rules and regulations in place to stop another recession from occurring.

Obama has been keen to take credit for the improving economic landscape, arguing that new financial regulations, an early boost in government spending and the bailout of the auto industry under his watch were essential to the recovery.

Economic concerns remain at the top of Americans’ minds, the AP-GfK poll shows, with 9 in 10 calling the economy a very or extremely important issue, significantly more than any other issue asked about in the poll.

The poll finds that people are slightly more likely to trust Democrats than Republicans on handling economic issues, 33 percent to 28 percent.

Improving views of the president also came with a small increase in the percentage that thinks the country is headed in the right direction — 39 percent compared with 33 percent in December.

Much of that improvement was among Democrats, two-thirds of whom now think the country is headed in the right direction. Improved ratings among Democrats appeared to boost Obama’s approval rating.

Bolstered by lower unemployment, greater consumer confidence and evidence of a rise in his approval ratings, Obama has made an aggressive start to his final two years in office even after November’s elections gave control of Congress to Republicans. The White House hopes a stronger recovery gives Obama the credibility to confront Republicans with his own economic pitch.

In spite of growing optimism about politics and the economy, 8 in 10 people questioned have little confidence that Obama and Republicans in Congress can work together to solve the country’s problems.

Americans blame both sides for the perceived impasse. About half thinks Obama doesn’t compromise enough with Republicans to get things done, while 6 in 10 say Republicans don’t compromise enough with Obama. Fewer than 2 in 10 think either side compromises too much.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report.

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Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: Support of gay marriage comes with caveats

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — While finding that Americans narrowly favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, a new Associated Press-GfK poll also shows most believe wedding-related businesses should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.

Roughly half the country also thinks local officials and judges with religious objections ought to be exempt from any requirement that they issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, according to the poll.

That view of the same-sex marriage issue echoes that of the Mormon church. Last week, the church called on state legislatures to pass new laws that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination but also to protect the rights of those who assert their religious beliefs.

David Kenney, a self-employed Catholic from Novi, Michigan, said he’s fine with same-sex marriage being legal. He’s among the 57 percent of Americans who said wedding-related businesses — such as florists — should be allowed to refuse service if they have an objection rooted in their religion.

“Why make an issue out of one florist when there are probably thousands of florists?” asked Kenney, 59. “The gay community wants people to understand their position, but at the same time, they don’t want to understand other people’s religious convictions. It’s a two-way street.”

Kenney isn’t alone. About a quarter of those who favor legal same-sex marriage also favor religious exemptions for those who issue marriage licenses, the poll finds, and a third say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service.

Geri Rice, who lives near San Francisco and works in law firm management, strongly favors gay marriage. She’s torn about whether a public official with religious objections should be exempt from issuing a license but says she believes that business owners should be allowed to tell somebody no thanks.

“I don’t like it,” Rice said, “but I think they have the right.”

Whether a business can refuse service to someone is a matter of federal, state and local law. National gay-rights groups called the idea of trying to carve out religious exemptions in anti-discrimination statues, such as those proposed by leaders of the Mormon church, deeply flawed.

James Esseks, who directs the LGBT project of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom “does not give any of us the right to harm others, and that’s what it sounds like the proposal from the Mormon church would do.”

The poll found that 44 percent of Americans favor and 39 percent oppose legal same-sex marriage in their own states, while 15 percent expressed no opinion. But the country is evenly divided, 48 percent to 48 percent, on which way the Supreme Court should rule when it decides the issue for the entire nation this spring.

Gay marriage is legal in 36 states because of a flurry of recent federal court decisions.

In Utah County, south of Salt Lake City, clerk Bryan Thompson says he has strong personal opinions on same-sex marriage, but he doesn’t think those should influence how he performs his duties. His office initially waited to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in December 2013 after a federal judge in Utah struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage. Thompson said he had wanted more legal guidance from the state.

“I have a responsibility as a civil servant to follow the dictates of the law, regardless of my personal feelings or preferences,” Thompson said.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Swanson reported from Washington.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


AP-GfK Poll: US will back dissidents in Cuba; poll shows support for thaw

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s lead negotiator with Cuba is vowing to maintain U.S. support for democracy and human rights activists there as she pushes to restore embassies between the countries after a half-century interruption.

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds broad support in the United States for warmer ties with Cuba. Forty-five percent of those surveyed backed the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Cold War foes, with only 15 percent opposing. Sixty percent backed the end of the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, with 35 percent supporting its continuation.

Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, is set to testify before the before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. On Tuesday she told a Senate panel that she planned more talks with her Cuban counterparts later this month. The administration had hoped to reach an agreement on new embassies by April’s Summit of the Americas in Panama, though that looks unlikely.

Jacobson’s trip to Havana last month made her the highest-level U.S. official to visit Cuba’s capital in more than three decades. The talks encompassed the details of reconstituting embassies in each other’s capitals, managing migration flows and the much larger process of normalizing ties between governments with unresolved issues such as fugitives and financial claims.

She said she raised several remaining barriers to full diplomatic relations during her Havana discussions, including U.S. resistance to any restrictions on American diplomats, shipments to the U.S. Interests Section and Cuban access to that building.

Concrete progress was limited, however. This month’s talks are likely to be in Washington.

Seizing on comments made by Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top negotiator, after last month’s talks, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Jacobson for a commitment that the U.S. would continue backing activists after any agreement. In an interview with The Associated Press, Vidal had tied the establishment of embassies to reduced U.S. support for dissidents.

“We would not curtail the activities we’re doing now,” Jacobson answered.

In Congress, positions on Obama’s sudden rapprochement with Cuba crisscross party affiliation and political interest.

Countering Rubio among Republicans was Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who wants to end all U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, another Republican who supports the thaw, didn’t show up for the hearing.

Among Democrats, California Sen. Barbara Boxer defended the Obama administration after Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey complained that the U.S. won no concessions from President Raul Castro’s government and demanded that Cuba extradite a woman convicted of killing a policeman from his state. Both Rubio and Menendez are Cuban-Americans.

The AP-GfK poll found self-identified Democrats overwhelmingly in favor of restoring embassies and eliminating the U.S. embargo, which Obama has eased but only Congress can revoke.

Among Republicans, the blocs are closer. Thirty-four percent want diplomatic relations, with 30 percent opposed. Forty-nine percent want the embargo lifted, with 50 percent believing it should stay.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 2, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP Poll: The way to your Valentine’s heart may go through Mom

WASHINGTON (AP) — Guys, if you want to get the girl, try bringing flowers — to her mother.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s something to think about: Winning over mom may sound old-fashioned, but it’s still a smart strategy in today’s fast-changing, app-tapping, hookup-happy world of dating.

In a new poll, 6 in 10 young women say when they’re thinking of getting serious with somebody, their mother’s approval is “extremely” or “very” important.

“She makes the call,” said Jessica Wilhelm, a 19-year-old college student and self-described “mommy’s girl.”

Wilhelm, from Brighton, Michigan, said she learned her lesson in high school when she tried going out with “the guy your parents don’t want.”

“It’s not a good idea,” she said. “It doesn’t go smoothly for anybody.”

A mere 6 percent of women under age 30 say their mother’s opinion matters “not at all” when dating, the Associated Press-WE tv poll found.

Four in 10 young women would consider breaking up with someone mom didn’t like, according to the poll. Indeed, 16 percent say they’ve dumped a guy for that reason.

Sons worry a little less than daughters about what mom thinks, the survey found. Still, half of 18-to-29-year-old men say her approval is extremely or very important when a relationship might get serious.

Andy Lowney, 22, of DeWitt, Michigan, said if he were dating a woman his mother didn’t like, he wouldn’t ditch her immediately.

“I’d see if it’s something you can change over time,” he said. “But long, long term, that’s going to be an issue.”

Dads, the stereotypical gatekeepers for teenage daughters, still have some say, too.

Half of young women and nearly 40 percent of young men put high importance on dad’s opinion when a romance is getting serious. A father’s view outranks what friends or siblings think, according to the poll.

Kelsley Broomfield, 21, said her parents deploy different tactics when sizing up boyfriend material.

Her mother, always friendly and chatty, asks the what-do-you-want-to-do-with-your-life questions. Dad listens and doesn’t say much, but he’ll signal his verdict later with a few subtle comments.

“He’s kind of the test,” said Broomfield, of Englewood, New Jersey.

Of course, dating a guy your parents like isn’t the same as dating a guy who’s like your parents.

And it turns out men aren’t necessarily looking for a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad, either. Among men and women of all ages, a slim majority — 51 percent — think it’s better to go out with someone who’s the opposite of their parents, instead of someone who reminds them of the folks.

And how do the folks feel about all this?

We’re not asking for much, they insist, but couldn’t you just listen to us now and then?

While few parents say they want a lot of sway over their grown children’s love lives, the vast majority of parents of all ages — 7 in 10 — would like to exert at least a little influence.

Alas, fewer than 6 in 10 parents believe they have, or will have, any influence at all.

Some may be underestimating their lifetime impact, however.

L.D. Ross Jr. of Clinton, Maryland, said he made his expectations known early through years of dinner-table conversations about values and how to judge character. By the time his son and three daughters were old enough to date, he said, “they were very good about the people they selected to bring home.” Three of the four are married now, and he has five grandkids.

“I don’t think anybody really wants to bring home somebody they know their parent is going to just totally disapprove of,” said Ross, 59. “It’s not going to be a happy family.”

What about when he was going out as a young man, did he give his own parents cause to worry?

No, Ross says, laughing — but they didn’t know about everything.

“I was a sneaky little sucker,” he said.

The poll of 1,315 adults was conducted ahead of the premiere of WE tv’s new show “Match Made in Heaven.” The poll was conducted online Dec. 19-21, 2014, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass


AP-GfK Poll: An appetite for labeling genetically modified foods

WASHINGTON (AP) — A large majority of Americans support labeling of genetically modified foods, whether they care about eating them or not.

According to a December Associated Press-GfK poll, 66 percent of Americans favor requiring food manufacturers to put labels on products that contain genetically modified organisms, or foods grown from seeds engineered in labs. Only 7 percent are opposed to the idea, and 24 percent are neutral.

Fewer Americans say genetically modified ingredients are important to them when judging whether a food is healthy. About 4 in 10 said the presence of such ingredients was very or extremely important to them.

That’s higher than the share who say it’s important to know whether a food is organic, and about on par with the share saying they consider the amount of protein in a food an important factor.

For some, the debate over GMOs is about the food system overall. Andrew Chan of Seattle said he strongly favors labeling genetically modified ingredients, but those ingredients themselves aren’t most important to him. As a parent, he said his top concern is the abundance of processed foods.

“GMO ingredients aren’t the number one thing, but more than likely within a processed food I’d find something that is a genetically modified product,” said Chan, 41.

Genetically modified seeds are engineered to have certain traits, such as resistance to herbicides or certain plant diseases. Most of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that becoming animal feed. Modified corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients such as corn oil, corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require labeling of genetically modified foods, saying those on the market are safe. Consumer advocates backing labeling say shoppers have a right to know what is in their food, arguing not enough is known about their effects.

The AP-GfK poll comes as several states have weighed in on the issue. Vermont became the first state to require labels for genetically modified foods last year, passing a law in May that will take effect mid-2016 if it survives legal challenges. Maine and Connecticut passed laws before Vermont, but those measures don’t take effect unless neighboring states follow suit. Ballot initiatives to require labeling were narrowly defeated in California, Washington and Oregon in recent years.

The food industry and seed companies have aggressively fought attempts to force labeling, and have pushed a bill in Congress that would block those efforts. The bill by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, would reaffirm that such food labels are voluntary, overriding any state laws that require them.

In a December congressional hearing on the issue, members of both parties were less inclined than the public to support labeling. Many questioned whether mandatory GMO labels would be misleading to consumers since there is little scientific evidence that such foods are unsafe.

According to the AP-GfK poll, public support for labeling GMOs was bipartisan, with 71 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans favoring labeling. Even among conservative Republicans, more than 6 in 10 favor a labeling requirement.

Jay Jaffe, a Republican from Philadelphia, says he strongly favors labeling even though he has no problem buying GMOs. “If they are cheaper and they taste right to me, I’ll buy it,” he says.

Still, he thinks there should be accountability in the food industry. “It should be there and not in small print,” he said of GMO labels. “People should be able to make a choice.”

Lucinda Morel, an independent who leans Democratic from Los Angeles, says she is very conscious of ingredients as a mother of three young children. She strongly favors labeling GMO foods.

Morel said she is concerned that so many foods have become modified “before we can see any ramifications or any fallout, if there is any, from making such changes so quickly.”

The food industry has faced pressure from retailers as consumer awareness of GMOs has increased. The retailer Whole Foods plans to label GMO products in all its U.S. and Canadian stores by 2018. And some companies have decided to remove the ingredients altogether.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans support menu labeling in restaurants, grocery stores

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half of Americans say they already have enough information at restaurants to decide whether they are making a healthy purchase. But they want even more.

According to an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in December, most Americans favor labeling calories on menus in fast food and sit-down restaurants. Most favor labels for prepared foods in the grocery store, too.

The poll was conducted a little more than a week after the Food and Drug Administration announced new rules that will require restaurants and other establishments that sell prepared foods and have 20 or more locations to post the calorie content of food “clearly and conspicuously” on their menus, menu boards and displays. Companies will have until November 2015 to comply.

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MAJORITY SUPPORT MENU LABELING

A majority of Americans — 56 percent — favor requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie amounts on menus, while 54 percent favor the calorie postings at sit-down restaurants and 52 percent favor the labels at prepared food counters at grocery stores.

Slightly fewer approved of requiring the calorie postings in other dining locations. Forty-nine percent of Americans supported posting calories on coffee shop menus and 44 percent approved of the postings on vending machines and at movie theaters. Forty-three percent favored calorie postings in amusement parks. All of those establishments will be required to post calorie amounts under the new FDA rules.

Only about 1 in 10 Americans oppose labeling requirements at each of these places. The remainder said they neither favor nor oppose each requirement.

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WOMEN, DEMOCRATS MOST SUPPORTIVE

Women are more likely than men to say they favor labeling requirements at restaurants and prepared-food counters, though a majority of men support the labeling at fast food restaurants and around half support it at sit-down restaurants. College-educated respondents are more likely than those without a college education to favor labeling requirements at all of the establishments.

The support appears to be relatively bipartisan. Democrats are significantly more likely to support the calorie postings than independents or Republicans, but a slim majority of Republicans still support calorie postings at restaurants.

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PEOPLE CARE ABOUT CALORIES, SUGARS, FATS

The idea behind the rules is that people may pass on that bacon double cheeseburger if they know it has hundreds of calories — and, in turn, restaurants may make their foods healthier to keep calorie counts down. The menus and menu boards will tell diners that a 2,000-calorie diet is used as the basis for daily nutrition, noting that individual calorie needs may vary. Additional nutritional information beyond calories, including sodium, fats, sugar and other items, must be available upon request.

When they’re judging whether a food item is a healthy choice or not, 55 percent of Americans say how many calories it contains is very or extremely important to them. Same with sodium levels.

Sugar and fat were slightly more important to health-conscious diners — 61 percent said sugar was very or extremely important when deciding on healthy purchases and 59 percent said the same about the amount of fat.

Only 36 percent of Americans said they feel the level of vitamins and minerals is extremely or very important when making healthy purchases, and even fewer — 23 percent, less than a quarter — said the same about whether an item is organic. Women and people living in urban areas were most likely to make organic food a priority.

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AMERICANS ARE ALREADY INFORMED

Even though a majority favors more calorie labeling, most Americans say they already have enough information to decide whether they are making healthy purchases at restaurants.

Sixty percent say they now have enough nutrition information at sit-down restaurants and 56 percent say they do at fast food restaurants. That number drops to 48 percent at prepared food counters in grocery stores.

Around a third say they don’t have enough information to decide if they are making a healthy purchase in any of those places.

When it comes to the grocery store, 75 percent of people say they have enough information to make a healthy choice. Unlike restaurants, where nutritional information is often a mystery, nutrition facts panels have been required on packaged foods since the 1990s. The FDA included prepared foods at supermarkets in the menu labeling rules as grocery stores have increasingly sold restaurant-like offerings.

The menu labels were required by Congress as part of health overhaul in 2010. The FDA has said they are just one way to combat obesity, since Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home.

Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner of foods, said the agency knows there is strong interest from the public in the labeling.

“It’s not a magic wand, but it will help people make better choices about their diets,” he said.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

 

 


AP-GfK Poll: 5 things to know about the economy

By JENNIFER AGIESTA and EMILY SWANSON

WASHINGTON (AP) – Few issues in a presidential campaign come close to being as meaningful as the economy. The latest Associated Press-GfK poll offers a look at how the public feels about this issue, which touches nearly every aspect of American life. As the 2016 candidates get set to kick off their campaigns, here are five things to know about public opinion on the economy.

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THE ECONOMY ISN’T A MONOLITH

The economy, writ large, has been America’s top policy priority for the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency, despite the slowly building recovery and the recent skyrocketing stock market. But focusing on this overall concern masks a distinction that matters to many Americans. Though negative perceptions of the economy overall are down compared with four years ago (57 percent describe it as “poor” compared with 83 percent who did in November 2010), Americans’ ratings of their own finances are actually a bit worse than they were back then (38 percent describe their household’s finances as poor, up from 30 percent in 2010). Young Americans, under age 30, have an exceptionally negative take on their finances, with nearly half describing them as poor.

Along the same lines, while a majority of Americans say the stock market and big businesses have mostly recovered from the Great Recession, just 16 percent think small businesses have, 27 percent say the job market where they live is mostly recovered and only 34 percent say their family is largely back to normal.

EDUCATION, LOCATION, INCOME LINKED TO IMPRESSION OF ECONOMY

For some in America, the economy is humming along. Majorities of college graduates, urban residents and people with incomes of $100,000 or more say the economy is in good shape. By contrast, just 28 percent of rural residents, 35 percent without college degrees and 35 percent with incomes under $50,000 say it’s in good shape. Half of those with incomes under $50,000 and 42 percent of rural residents say they and their families haven’t yet recovered from the Great Recession.

Rural residents feel the labor and real estate markets in their area have been particularly hard hit: 45 percent say their local real estate market has only recovered a little or not at all, while 53 percent say the same about their local job market.

EXPECTATIONS ARE SOMEWHAT BETTER

The poll finds an uptick in Americans’ hopes for their own finances and the nation’s finances in the coming year. In the new poll, 34 percent say they expect their household’s financial situation to improve over the next 12 months, better than the 27 percent saying so in October. And 38 percent think the overall economic situation in the country will improve in the coming year, up from 31 percent in October. On both measures, the share saying things would worsen dropped significantly. Still, 48 percent see stagnation ahead for themselves and 42 percent see sluggishness for the economy more broadly.

INCHING TOWARD RECOVERY

That expectation of stagnation may be because that’s what most Americans think the economy is doing now. Asked how the economy had changed in the last month, 60 percent said it stayed about the same. Nearly a quarter think it improved, while 14 percent say it’s gotten worse. Those figures are slightly rosier than in October, when 24 percent said things had worsened. But the majority saying things are staying the same has held over two years of AP-GfK polls, with one exception during the partial government shutdown in October 2013 when the share saying things got worse spiked to 45 percent.

LITTLE FAITH IN WASHINGTON TO IMPROVE THINGS

Who can turn things around? Very few think it’s Washington. Two-thirds of Americans say it’s unlikely that the newly elected Republican majority in Congress will be able to improve the economy in the next two years, and 6 in 10 say Obama won’t be able to either. Three in 10 say they don’t even trust either party to handle the economy.

But Americans don’t completely discount that Washington can help: 52 percent say the government generally did a decent job helping the country recover from the Great Recession. A scant 10 percent, however, say that Washington did a “very good” job lifting the economy out of recession.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: -http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-Times Square poll: Americans optimistic for 2015, give mixed reviews to 2014

By EMILY SWANSON and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are closing out 2014 on an optimistic note, according to a new Associated Press-Times Square Alliance poll. Nearly half predict that 2015 will be a better year for them than 2014 was, while only 1 in 10 think it will be worse. There’s room for improvement: Americans give the year gone by a resounding ‘meh.’

Here’s what Americans thought of 2014:

GAINS AT HOME, SLIPS ABROAD

On a personal level, about a third (34 percent) think 2014 was better than 2013, while 15 percent say 2014 was worse and half see little difference. Slightly fewer feel their year was a step down from the previous one than said so in 2013, when an AP-Times Square poll found 20 percent thought 2013 was worse than 2012.

Americans are slightly more likely than they were a year ago to believe that the current year was better than the last for the United States— 30 percent say so this year, while 25 percent said so in 2013. On the other hand, Americans are more likely than in the 2013 poll to say this year was worse than last for the world as a whole, with 38 percent saying so now after 30 percent said so a year ago.

THREE STORIES SHARE TOP SPOT

Americans are divided on the most important news event of 2014, with the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, protests over the killings of black men including Michael Brown and Eric Garner by police officers, and the Ebola outbreak each named by about 1 in 10 Americans. In a separate Associated Press survey of news directors and editors, the killings of unarmed men by police stand out more clearly as the top story, with 22 of 85 respondents choosing it as the top news, about twice as many as the Islamic State or Ebola stories.

Among the public, Democrats are most likely to name the unrest over Brown and Garner’s deaths as most important (14 percent), while Republicans are most likely to list the rise of the Islamic State (16 percent). Non-whites are more apt to cite the protests around Brown and Garner’s deaths than whites (14 percent among non-whites, 8 percent among whites). The poll was conducted before the shooting deaths of two New York City police officers by a man who threatened retaliation for the police killings of unarmed black men.

Asked separately to rate the importance of 10 key stories, majorities call the expansion of the Islamic State militant group, the Ebola outbreak and the U.S. midterm elections extremely or very important stories. Nearly half rate immigration as that important, while 43 percent say so of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner stories. Only a third think the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the situation between Russia and Ukraine, or the rising number of states with legal same-sex marriage were deeply important stories.

THE YEAR IN POP CULTURE

Few Americans rate this year’s crop of pop culture events as memorable, with one big exception: The death of Robin Williams, and the ensuing discussion of mental health issues. About two-thirds call that a memorable event.

Slightly more say it was more memorable (39 percent) than forgettable (34 percent) that CVS stopped selling cigarettes, and they’re divided equally on whether the ubiquitous ice bucket challenge was memorable (37 percent) or forgettable (37 percent). Thirty percent say the pitching performance of Mo’ne Davis, the first female pitcher to win a Little League World Series game, was memorable, while 41 percent say it was forgettable. Women are more likely than men to see Davis’s performance as memorable, 33 percent of women say so versus 26 percent of men.

Another sports first: Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, is rated forgettable by about half.

Events rating as forgettable by a majority of Americans include the leak of hacked celebrity photos on Reddit, Ellen DeGeneres’s selfie at the Oscars, Taylor Swift going pop, and the marriages of George and Amal Clooney and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR

About half of Americans plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home this year, while 2 in 10 say they’ll do so at a friend or family member’s home. Fewer than 1 in 10 plan to celebrate at a bar, restaurant or organized event, while about a quarter don’t plan to celebrate at all.

Six in 10 Americans plan to watch the televised New Year’s Eve events in Times Square, including two-thirds of women and over half of men.

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The AP-Times Square Alliance Poll of 1,017 adults was conducted online Dec. 12-14, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll is a cooperative effort between AP and the organizers of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration, the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment. The Alliance is a nonprofit group that seeks to promote Times Square, and Countdown Entertainment represents the owners of One Times Square and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Cards, gifts cross religious lines

By JENNIFER AGIESTA and EMILY SWANSON

WASHINGTON (AP) — Christmastime is here and a new poll reveals the cards and gifts that are part of celebrating the holiday are ubiquitous, even among those who don’t share the Christian beliefs behind the story of the Magi who gave the first Christmas gifts.

According to the Associated Press-GfK poll, 77 percent of Americans plan to exchange gifts this holiday season and 48 percent will send greeting cards. The gift-giving set includes about 8 in 10 Christians and 73 percent of those who say they have no religious beliefs.

Greeting cards also cross denominational lines, with 53 percent of Protestants, 55 percent of Catholics and 40 percent of those without religious beliefs saying they will send cards this year.

Here’s a look at how Americans view this season’s greetings:

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THE PHOTO CARD GENERATION

Americans who aren’t religious are less likely to send cards because they tend to be younger, and young people are less apt to send cards, regardless of their religious beliefs. Fifty-two percent of non-religious Americans over age 50 plan to send cards, not far off the 57 percent of Protestants and 64 percent of Catholics in that age group who will send them.

Young people are the least likely of all demographic groups to say they’ll send cards this year. Just 29 percent of Americans under age 30 plan to, compared with 64 percent of seniors. The young are also the least likely to receive cards. Two-thirds under age 30 receive five Christmas cards or less per year. Among seniors, just 18 percent receive five or fewer cards in a typical year.

Those under-30s, raised in the age of email, are most likely to reject the concept of cards altogether. Asked what type of card they prefer to receive, 21 percent say none, thanks. Just 8 percent of seniors share that view.

Younger adults who do like holiday cards are more likely to say they want a photo card, while the older set tends to prefer handwritten notes or Christmas letters. A third of those under age 50 say photo cards are their favorites, compared with 18 percent of those age 50 or older. Among those 50 or older, 54 percent prefer a pre-printed or boxed card with a note or a personal signature, compared with 36 percent of younger adults. Another 12 percent age 50 or older say they’d really like a Christmas letter. And regardless of age, no one embraces the holiday e-card: Just 2 percent say they want one of those.

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MARRIAGE, GENDER GAPS ON CARDS AND GIFTS

Women are more likely than men to say they will send seasonal greetings to friends or loved ones this year, with married women most likely of all to send a card full of holiday cheer. About two-thirds of married women said they will send out cards, compared with 52 percent of married men, 42 percent of unmarried women and just 31 percent of unmarried men.

On the gift front, married people are more apt to give presents than those who aren’t married (82 percent plan to exchange gifts this year compared with 66 percent of those who have never been married), though the gap between men and women among married people is significantly smaller than the card gap (84 percent of married women plan to give gifts compared to 80 percent of married men).

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HANDMADE VS. STORE BOUGHT

D-I-Y is not on Americans’ wish list. Asked whether they prefer to receive a store-bought gift or a handmade one, Americans err on the side of the stores. By a 62 percent to 35 percent margin, people prefer their gifts to come from the store. Women (41 percent), rural residents (43 percent) and whites (38 percent) are most apt to favor handmade presents.

When giving, however, the preference for store-bought wares is even stronger. Overall, 85 percent of Americans who will exchange gifts this year say they would rather buy a gift than make one. Women (17 percent) are still more likely than men to prefer handmade gifts.

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HOW MANY STAMPS?

When it comes to cards, Americans receive more than they give. Although 50 percent of Americans say they won’t send any cards this year, just 11 percent say they don’t typically receive any cards. Forty percent say they usually get more than 10 cards around the holidays.

Among the 48 percent who say they will send a card this year, 50 percent say they will send fewer than 20 cards. Those who plan to send more drive up the average to about 30 cards per sender, including 11 percent who say they plan to send more than 50 cards this year, presumably including one for the postman.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: —http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans skeptical of commercial drones
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are skeptical that the benefits of the heralded drone revolution will outweigh the risks to privacy and safety, although a majority approve of using small, unmanned aircraft for dangerous jobs or in remote areas, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

By a 2-1 margin, those who had an opinion opposed using drones for commercial purposes. Only 21 percent favored commercial use of drones, compared with 43 percent opposed. Another 35 percent were in the middle.

With a few narrow exceptions, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits commercial use of drones but is about to propose regulations that will broaden the use of small ones. It may be two or three years before the rules take effect, but once they do thousands are expected to buzz U.S. skies.

Congress may also step in next year to try to nudge the FAA to move faster. Drones are forecast to create 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact in the first 10 years they’re allowed, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group.

Only 3 percent of people say they’ve operated small drones, which are essentially the same as remote-controlled model aircraft.

Support for using commercial drones was the weakest among women and seniors, while college graduates and wealthier people were more apt to favor it.

Elliot Farber, 26, said drones are just the latest technological advancement and he doesn’t understand why anyone would oppose them.

“It’s really wild to think about it,” said Farber, who works in a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. “It’s literally something you would see in a movie and now they’re talking about it like it’s a true possibility. I think it’s inevitable it will happen. I think it’s a great thing.”

But Roberta Williams, 66, said she doesn’t believe “the average person should be allowed to just go out and get one to do whatever they want to do with it.” She worries people will put guns or other weapons on them and use them for sinister purposes.

The reliability of drones is another concern. “This is still a remote-control vehicle, and those things go amok,” said Williams, a retired nonprofit organization manager who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Still, the survey showed many Americans see value in the use of drones for certain tasks, such as inspecting oil platforms and bridges. Majorities also said they favor using drones to help map terrain through aerial photography, and to monitor wildlife.

But — Amazon take note — only 1 in 4 thinks using drones to deliver small packages is a good idea. Thirty-nine percent were opposed, and 34 percent were neutral on that question. Nearly the same share opposed using drones to take photographs or videos at weddings and other private events. A third opposed allowing farmers to use drones to spray crops, while another third supported it. Only 23 percent said they favored the recreational use of small drones.

Ramona Jones, 65, said that if Amazon uses drones to deliver packages as it has proposed, delivery services like UPS, FedEx and the postal service won’t be far behind. She envisions skies crowded with drones running into each other and raining debris on people below.

“It sounds futuristic, but how are they going to manage that?” said Jones, of Austin, Texas. “Just like we have cars on the highway … somebody is still going to hit somebody else.”

Robert Waters, 54, a history professor at Ohio Northern University, said he favors commercial use of drones but has misgivings.

“They could definitely improve people’s lives,” he said. “Of course, they could also make them miserable with the kind of spying that people could do on each other. It’s a double-edged sword.”

Nearly three-fifths of those polled said they were extremely or very concerned that private operators could use drones in a way that violates privacy.

The FAA is expected to propose restricting drones weighing less than 55 pounds to flights under 400 feet high, forbid nighttime flights, and require drones be kept within sight of their operators.

It also may require drone operators to get pilot’s licenses, which would be controversial. Critics say the skills needed to fly a manned aircraft are different from those needed to operate a drone. But 64 percent support requiring the pilot’s licenses.

Eddy Dufault, 58, a machinist and part-time wildlife photographer in Marlborough, Massachusetts, who is considering buying a drone, said he agrees with most of the restrictions, but opposes licensing. It can cost would-be pilots $15,000 for the needed flight training and practice flights, he said, adding it would be more appropriate to require operators to attend a few classes and pass a drone flight test.

“There are people who are going to abuse it no matter what you do,” he said, “but 99.9 percent of them won’t.”

The poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy and Jennifer Agiesta at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta


AP-GfK Poll: End game: No immigration deal, just divisions

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Congress that began with bright hopes for immigration legislation is ending in bitter divisions on the issue even as some Republicans warn that the political imperative for acting is stronger than ever for the GOP.

In place of a legislative solution, President Barack Obama’s recent executive action to curb deportations for millions here illegally stands as the only federal response to what all lawmakers agree is a dysfunctional immigration system. Many Democrats are convinced Latino voters will reward them for Obama’s move in the 2016 presidential and Senate elections, while some Republicans fear they will have a price to pay.

“If we don’t make some down payment toward a rational solution on immigration in 2015, early 2016, good luck winning the White House,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an author of the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate last year with bipartisan support, but stalled in the GOP-led House.

With the expiration of the 113th Congress this month, that bill will officially die, along with its path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in this country illegally.

Immigration is certain to be a focus for the new, fully Republican-led Congress when it convenes in January — but there’s little expectation the GOP will make another attempt at comprehensive reforms.

Instead, GOP leaders in the House and Senate have pledged to take action to block Obama’s executive moves, setting up a battle for late February when funding expires for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration matters. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised action on a border security bill as part of that.

Whether Congress can do anything to stop Obama remains unclear, since he’s certain to veto any effort to undo his executive moves. It’s also not clear lawmakers could pass a border bill, or that Obama would sign it if they did.

While some congressional Republicans are arguing for action on piecemeal reforms, most advocates are resigned to waiting until a new president takes office in 2017 for lawmakers to make another attempt at a comprehensive overhaul that resolves the central immigration dilemma — the status of the millions here illegally.

“They had the best chance in a generation and they couldn’t get enough support from the Republican caucus,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group. “It may well be that they’re going to have to lose the White House and both chambers of Congress for us to get comprehensive immigration reform.”

When Obama won a second term in 2012 with strong Hispanic and Asian support, many national Republican leaders decided they needed to support policies that would attract those growing blocs of voters. The Republican National Committee formally embraced support for comprehensive immigration reform as a guiding principle for the GOP.

But legislative efforts stalled in the House as conservative Republicans balked at Boehner’s efforts to advance the issue. Last summer’s crisis over an influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the border caused shelter overloads and case backlogs, straining resources and creating the impression that the border was out of control — further souring political prospects for reform legislation.

In absence of congressional efforts, Obama promised he would act on his own, and he made good on that shortly after last month’s midterm elections, announcing an array of changes that will include work permits and three-year deportation stays for some 4 million immigrants here illegally. It mostly applies to those who’ve been here more than five years and have kids who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

The move inflamed Republicans, who have been fighting about it ever since, including a failed effort by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to block Obama in a Senate floor vote this past weekend. On Tuesday the dispute spilled over into debate on Obama’s nominee to lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Sarah Saldana, the U.S. attorney in Dallas. She was confirmed 55-39 by the Senate over objections from Republicans who had initially supported her but turned against her because of her support for Obama’s executive actions.

Meanwhile, some immigration advocates complained that the steps didn’t go far enough as Obama faced criticism from both sides of the political divide.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll found that most Americans support allowing immigrants living in the country illegally a way to stay here lawfully. But only 43 percent of them think Obama was right to take executive action to make those changes, while 54 percent of them say he should have kept trying to make a deal with Republicans. Still, the poll also showed little sign of blowback for Obama. Although 57 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the immigration issue, that was down slightly from 63 percent in October.

A group of 24 states joined in a federal lawsuit filed in Texas alleging that Obama overstepped his constitutional powers in a way that will only worsen the humanitarian problems along the southern U.S. border. And Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in federal court in Washington, contending that the policy is a magnet for more illegal entries into the country that will impose a burden on law enforcement.

In a court filing late Monday, the Justice Department argued for dismissal of Arpaio’s case, saying he has failed to substantiate his claims.

Congressional Republicans say that Obama’s actions created an even tougher climate for immigration legislation, but many Democrats and advocates contend that Republicans were terminally stalled on the issue anyway. Some Republicans question whether immigration legislation really is a political imperative for the GOP. “It’s really mixed out there — some people want a big immigration bill, others don’t,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a supporter of reform efforts.

And two years after a “Gang of Eight” senators launched an immigration overhaul drive on Capitol Hill, some of those same players say they have no plans to initiate another such effort.

“I’m not going to start it in the Senate,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “We’ve tried that.”

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Associated Press News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson and writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: Crunch time again for health insurance sign-ups

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama’s push to cover America’s uninsured faces another big test Monday.

 

This time, it’s not only how the website functions, but how well the program itself works for millions who are starting to count on it.

 

Midnight Monday, Pacific time is the deadline for new customers to pick a health plan that will take effect Jan. 1, and for current enrollees to make changes that could reduce premium increases ahead of the new year.

 

HealthCare.gov and state insurance websites are preparing for heavy online traffic before the deadline, which gives consumers in the East three hours into Tuesday to enroll.

 

Wait times at the federal call center started creeping up around the middle of last week, mainly due to a surge of current customers with questions about their coverage for next year. Many will face higher premiums, although they could ease the hit by shopping online for a better deal. Counselors reported hold times of 20 minutes or longer for the telephone help line.

 

About 6.7 million people now have coverage through Obama’s signature law, which offers subsidized private insurance. The administration wants to increase that to 9.1 million in 2015. To do that, the program will have to keep most of its current enrollees while signing up more than 2 million new paying customers.

 

People no longer can be turned down because of health problems, but picking insurance still is daunting for many consumers. They also have to navigate the process of applying for or updating federal subsidies, which can be complex for certain people, including immigrants. Many returning customers are contending with premium increases generally in the mid-to-high single digits, but much more in some cases.

 

Consumers “understand it’s complicated but they appreciate the ability to get health insurance,” said Elizabeth Colvin of Foundation Communities, an Austin, Texas, nonprofit that is helping sign up low-income residents. “People who haven’t gone through the process don’t understand how complicated it is.”

 

Last year’s open enrollment season turned into a race to salvage the reputation of the White House by fixing numerous technical bugs that crippled HealthCare.gov from its first day. With the website now working fairly well, sign-up season this year is a test of whether the program itself is practical for the people it is intended to serve.

 

New wrinkles have kept popping up, even with seemingly simple features of the Affordable Care Act.

 

For example, most current customers who do nothing will be automatically renewed Jan. 1 in the plan they now are in. At this point, it looks like that is what a majority intends to do.

 

While that may sound straightforward, it’s not.

 

By staying in their current plans, people can get locked into a premium increase and miss out on lower-priced plans for 2015. Not only that, they also will keep their 2014 subsidies, which may be less than what they legally would be entitled to for next year.

 

Doing nothing appears to be a particularly bad idea for people who turned 21 this year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington group that advocates for low-income people.

 

Researchers at the center estimate that 21-year-olds will see a 58 percent increase in the sticker price for their premiums just because they’re a year older. An age-adjustment factor used to compute premiums jumps substantially when a person turns 21. A 20-year-old whose premium was $130 per month in 2014 will see the premium climb to $205 a month in 2015, solely because of that year’s difference.

 

Tax-credit subsidies can cancel out much or even all of the impact. But if consumers default to automatic renewal, their tax credits will not be updated and they will get the same subsidy as this year.

 

“Even in the best possible scenario of how many people we can expect to come in, we will still see a substantial number of people defaulting,” said Judy Solomon, a health care policy expert at the center. She worries that some young adults may get discouraged and drop out.

 

Reviews of HealthCare.gov and state health insurance exchanges are mixed.

 

An Associated Press-GfK poll this month found that 11 percent of Americans said they or someone else in their household tried to sign up since open enrollment began Nov. 15. Overall, 9 percent said the insurance markets are working extremely well or very well. Twenty-six percent said the exchanges are working somewhat well, and 39 percent said they were not working well. The remaining 24 percent said they didn’t know enough to rate performance.

 

So far it has been a frustrating experience for Marie Bagot, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She and her husband are in their 60s, but not yet old enough for Medicare. The husband, who works as a chef, will turn 65 around the middle of next year and qualify for Medicare. Bagot said they were happy with their insurance this year under Obama’s law.

 

“As you get older, you worry about your health,” she said. “I was very pleased with the price we got.”

 

But Bagot said she received a notice from her insurer that her current plan will not be available next year in her community. The closest alternative would involve a premium increase of more than $350 a month, even with their tax credit subsidy. After days of trying to find a comparable plan through the federal call center and after visiting a counselor, Bagot said she opted to keep their current coverage, while hoping costs go down after her husband joins Medicare.

 

“I cannot afford it, but I’m going to try to,” she said.

 

Monday is not the last chance for consumers like Bagot. Open enrollment doesn’t end until Feb. 15.

 

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Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

 


AP-GfK Poll: Nearly 9 in 10 doubt Obama, GOP can break gridlock

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans may not agree on much lately, but one opinion is nearly universal: There’s almost no chance that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the Republican Congress can work together to solve the country’s problems.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds just 13 percent of Americans are confident the leaders, separated by nearly 2 miles of Pennsylvania Avenue, can work together, while 86 percent have no such faith. That’s far more than the 58 percent who felt that way just after the 2010 midterm elections in which the tea party movement rose to prominence.

The doubts cross party lines: Fewer than 1 in 5 Democrats or independents have confidence the two sides can cooperate. Republicans are even more pessimistic, with just 1 in 10 confident Obama and Congress can work together.

Those who lack confidence spread the blame around: 41 percent say neither side would do enough to work together, 35 percent place more blame on the Republicans, 22 percent on the president.

Neither side holds much hope things are going to get better, either. Just 16 percent think the president is likely to restore public trust in government in the next two years, while 20 percent feel congressional Republicans will.

Robert Cole, 65, says both Democrats and Republicans deserve blame for Washington’s stalemate: “If you want to place the blame, it rests on the American voter.”

“They’re not doing their jobs, and we as the electorate are stupid in sending the same people back and expecting things to change,” said Cole, a retiree who lives in Ocala, Florida.

But not everyone sees cooperation as a positive.

“In my view, the Republicans were doing what they needed to do to block a harmful agenda coming from the executive branch,” said Ron Tykoski, 42, a paleontologist from Nevada, Texas.

What does the public think they’ll be able to do?

A majority say Obama is likely to prevent Congress from repealing the health care law passed in 2010, while nearly half say the GOP is likely to block Obama’s executive order on immigration. Another 42 percent think the GOP will block or roll back Obama’s environmental regulations. Fewer think either side will be able to enact the policies on their agenda.

Tamara Watson, 35, a high school teacher in West Columbia, South Carolina, said immigration and health care are the two issues where both sides do need to work together. She sees Republicans as the bigger roadblock.

“They have fought him his entire term and a half now, and there’s so many of them now,” she said. “It’s going to be very difficult for (Obama) to work with them when there are so many of them versus so few of his party.”

Political gridlock itself ranks pretty low on the issue scale, 47 percent call it extremely or very important compared with 83 percent who say the economy is important, 76 percent who consider health care a key issue and 64 percent who say unemployment is important.

But the issue prompts Obama’s most negative ratings overall: 66 percent disapprove of his handling of gridlock and among Democrats, 47 percent disapprove.

Approval ratings for the president and Congress are about the same as before the election, with 41 percent approval for Obama and 15 percent Congress. In general, however, the public expresses greater frustration with politics now than they did four years ago.

Looking back on last month’s elections, 52 percent say they’re disappointed with the results while 50 percent say they’re frustrated. Both figures are up significantly since 2010. About a quarter, 27 percent, say they’re angry, compared with 16 percent in 2010.

Just 37 percent say they’re hopeful when they think about the results of the elections, well below the 65 percent saying so after the 2010 elections, when the GOP took control of the House of Representatives, or the 74 percent who felt so when Obama was elected the nation’s first black president. Only 1 in 5 Americans under age 30 describe themselves as hopeful, fewer than any other age group.

More Americans say they trust neither party to handle managing the federal government than said they trust either side over the other. Nearly a third of both Democrats and Republicans say they trust neither party to handle managing the federal government, along with almost 6 in 10 independents.

But Cole says this hasn’t turned him away from politics.

“As aggravating as it is, I’m still paying attention just to see if I can find somebody out there who is going to do more than talk about cooperating and find a way forward,” he said.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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On Twitter, follow Jennifer Agiesta at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta and Emily Swanson at http://www.twitter.com/el_swan .

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Higher bar for health law in 2nd sign-up season

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a bright look to its rebuilt website, version 2.0 of President Barack Obama’s health insurance overhaul represents another chance to win over a skeptical public.

But more than possible computer woes lurk as HealthCare.gov’s second open enrollment season begins Nov. 15.

The risks include an unproven system for those renewing coverage and a tax hit that could sting millions of people. Those tax issues are the result of complications between the health care law and income taxes, and they will emerge during next year’s filing season.

“Things will not be perfect,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, trying to set expectations. “We are aiming for a strong consumer experience, and it will be better.”

The Obama administration cannot afford to repeat last year’s online meltdown. Congress will be entirely in Republican hands in 2015, and GOP lawmakers will be itching to build the case for repeal. The Supreme Court’s decision Friday to hear another challenge to the law is also casting a shadow.

The health insurance exchanges offer taxpayer-subsidized private coverage to people who do not have access on the job. HealthCare.gov will serve 37 states, while the rest run their own markets.

This new sign-up period will be the first time that renewal has been tried for current customers, and also overlaps with the first tax-filing season that the law’s requirements are in effect.

On the plus side, premium increases are expected to be modest in many, though not all, states. New insurers have come into the market, promoting competition, and regulators now take a close look at anything above a 10 percent increase.

The online application for most new customers is down to 16 screens from 76. Website security is better, thanks to aggressive monitoring. The government and insurers have added call center staff.

The administration had said last week that consumers would be able to get an early peek at 2015 plans and premiums this weekend. It looked like that early goal was slipping. Officials said Sunday that window shopping would be available overnight, without giving a specific time.

This year, the bar will be higher.

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that 13 million people will be covered through federal and state insurance markets in 2015. That means retaining most of the 7 million people now covered and adding 6 million more. Many are skeptics who sat out last year’s campaign.

One potential motivator: The law’s tax penalty for remaining uninsured is rising, to a minimum of $325 for 2015.

“We have some momentum built up,” said Rachel Klein, enrollment strategist for Families USA, an advocacy group supporting the law. “We can build on that, but it is a somewhat higher bar to find all the people we need to help, because by definition, they are harder to reach.”

An Associated Press-GfK poll found that 31 percent of those questioned expect the health insurance exchanges to work better, while 49 percent think they will work about the same. Also, 18 percent expect version 2.0 to be worse.

Some of the potential enrollment pitfalls:

—For those already signed up, coverage will renew automatically if you do nothing. Sounds good, but maybe not. You could miss out on lower premium options and get stuck with an outdated and possibly incorrect subsidy. Shop around, but don’t dally. You have until Dec. 15 to update your income information or change plans if you want to have everything in place by Jan. 1.

—New customers, be advised: The Nov. 15-Feb. 15 open enrollment is half as long as last time, and it overlaps with the holidays. Try to get familiar with some of the basic health insurance trade-offs. A low-premium silver or bronze plan may not make sense if you’ll wind up with high out-of-pocket costs for the deductible and copayments. In that case, you might be better off going for the gold.

Some of the tax complications lurking:

—Most current customers are getting a tax credit to help with premiums. Those subsidies are tied to income, so you’ll have to file new forms with your 2014 taxes to prove you got the right amount. Too much subsidy and your tax refund will get dinged. Too little, and the government owes you. It’s bound to cause anxiety because many people depend on their tax refunds to pay bills.

—If you remained uninsured in 2014, you risk a penalty that will be deducted from your tax refund. It starts at $95 for those uninsured all year. Millions of people may qualify for penalty waivers, but getting exemptions could be an ordeal. Some appear simple, but for others you’ll have to mail in an application and supporting documents.

Melissa Dresler of Lexington, Kentucky, said she’s lucky that she got covered, but she also learned some lessons that should make her a better shopper this year. The climate change researcher unexpectedly found herself in need of a delicate operation. She woke up one day and something was wrong with her right eye. It turned out to be a detached retina.

Her surgery cost well into five figures, and she paid about $1,000. The problem came when she had to go out-of-network because of a complication. To keep premiums in check, many plans restrict a patient’s choice. The follow-up corrective surgery cost her about $6,000.

“I may gripe once in a while, but I am so happy with Obamacare,” said Dresler. “I feel so lucky I was covered.”

She adds: “If I had known that I was going to have a major emergency then I would have certainly invested more in a better plan.”


AP-GfK Poll: Economy, other issues overshadow abortion

DENVER (AP) — As a season of campaigning enters its final, intense weekend, a new Associated Press-GfK poll illustrates the challenge ahead for candidates and their allies trying to rally voters around traditional wedge issues such as abortion and gay marriage. This fall, voters just have other matters on their minds.

Social issues are eclipsed by concerns about the economy, health care, the Islamic State group and Ebola, the poll finds. And hovering over each of these individual issues is a broad dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress.

Only 32 percent of likely voters called gay marriage an important issue, compared with 91 percent ranking the economy important, 78 percent with similar concerns about health care and 74 percent naming Ebola important. The issue that some Democrats have emphasized most of all — abortion rights — also has been a relatively low priority, with only 43 percent of likely voters in a September poll ranking it important.

Yet women’s health and reproductive rights have been at the center of campaigns for U.S. Senate in Alaska, Iowa, North Carolina and especially Colorado. There, half of the ads aired by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and those backing his re-election have criticized his GOP opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, on women’s health issues. They include a contention the 40-year-old congressman from eastern Colorado wants to ban some forms of birth control.

“Democrats this year clearly think that all that you need is that silver bullet of social issues,” said Katy Atkinson, a GOP political official in Denver. “It’s not. You need more.”

Gardner may have been able to parry the offensive by proposing that birth control pills be sold over-the-counter, without a prescription. After he began airing an ad on his proposal last month — as security concerns rose amid U.S. military action against the Islamic State group in the Middle East and the West Africa outbreak of the Ebola virus — Gardner moved ahead in public polls.

Gardner isn’t the only Republican to propose the sale of birth control over-the-counter. So, too, have Republicans running for Senate in North Carolina, Virginia and Minnesota.

The issue of access to birth control has also found its way into the Senate race in Iowa, where Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley has hammered his Republican opponent, state Sen. Joni Ernst, for her support of bestowing personhood status on a fetus. He says that would outlaw abortion, in-vitro fertilization and most kinds of contraception; she says she supports access to birth control and abortion in some circumstances.

Some voters have scoffed at the emphasis.

“They do a lot of yapping about how contraceptives have to do a lot with women’s health, which is a load of crap,” said Donald Johnson, 82, a staunch Republican in Clinton, Iowa. “If they want contraception, they can go and get it. It doesn’t cost that much. There’s no reason the government should be paying for it.”

On both abortion and same-sex marriage, recent AP-GfK polling has found likely voters more apt to trust Democrats than Republicans. But on issues that have captured more of voters’ attention this midterm season, such as the economy and protecting the country, Republicans have the advantage.

Republicans have emphasized terrorism and Ebola threats in the campaign’s closing days, though the poll suggests Ebola inspires less of a partisan preference than other issues.

Cindy Nath, a 59-year-old high school teacher in Colorado Springs, is most worried about economic inequality but also has concerns about reproductive freedom. A Democrat, she’s already cast an early ballot for Udall. But the issues her students discuss are very different — the Islamic State group and Ebola. “That’s what they’re talking about,” she said. “ISIS comes up every day.”

Women’s votes have shifted sharply between presidential years and midterm elections in recent contests, according to exit polling conducted for the AP and ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC. In 2012, women broke for Obama by an 11-point margin, while in 2010, when few candidates raised social issues as a major campaign theme, they split evenly between Democratic and Republican House candidates.

Atkinson noted that social issues usually poll low in priority but can be effective in defining candidates as too extreme. That’s how Democrats have won recently in Colorado. Although polling shows Udall slightly behind, his campaign believes he can win with a superior get-out-the-vote operation and by continuing to use women’s health issues to motivate key voting groups. Democrats are particularly targeting single women, whose participation dips in midterm elections.

The model is Sen. Michael Bennet’s 2010 come-from-behind win, where he similarly focused on women’s health. Still, a gender gap cuts both ways. Several recent polls in Colorado have shown Gardner’s advantage among men outpaces Udall’s among women.

But Jill Hanauer, a Denver-based Democratic strategist, said people should not mistake a temporary issue advantage for something permanent.

“Republicans have immediate issues to run on and Democrats have much broader, long-term ones like climate change and reproductive rights,” Hanauer said. “This election is one point in time, not a long-term trend.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Agiesta, AP’s director of polling, reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Stacy A. Anderson and Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: 2 of 3 Americans think the threat posed by Islamic State is very important

By DEB RIECHMANN and EMILY SWANSON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixty-five percent of Americans now say the threat from the Islamic State group is very or even extremely important, and nearly half think the U.S. military response in Iraq and Syria has not gone far enough, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Most want to see America’s partners step up their contribution to the fight,

Less than half, 43 percent, approve of the way President Barack Obama is handling the danger posed by the extremist militants.

Greg Franke, 24, of Columbia, South Carolina, was among the 55 percent of those who disapproved. Franke, a 24-year-old assistant editor at a research library, said he thought Obama was too hesitant in responding to the militants, who have employed brutal tactics to swiftly seize territory.

“I understand the need to be hesitant, but this was a group that was marching across parts of the Middle East, which is already unstable,” Franke said. “I think it warranted a swift and more decisive response.”

“I also think that his declaration that U.S. troops would not be involved was premature,” he said. “I don’t want U.S. troops involved. But I don’t think we need to close doors.”

A majority, 66 percent, favor the airstrikes the United States has been launching against the militants, yet 65 percent of those surveyed say Obama has not clearly explained America’s goal in fighting the Islamic State group. The president met with his national security team on Friday to discuss the Islamic State and talk via video teleconference with U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Baghdad and consulates in Irbil and Basra.

Here’s a look at the poll:

IS ENOUGH BEING DONE?

Forty-six percent said the U.S. military response has not gone far enough — up from 40 percent in September. Fifty-six percent said the military response from countries that have joined the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State militants has not gone far enough. The U.S. and partner countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been bombing Islamic State targets since August.

“It shouldn’t just be us. It shouldn’t just be ‘Oh, the United States is policing.’ It should be everyone is there policing and everybody believes this is wrong and everyone — worldwide — is trying to stop this,” said Kathy Robinson, 24, a Sterling, Virginia, woman who works at an information technology company.

At the same time, she thinks the United States eventually will put troops on the ground in the region “just to make sure nothing starts back up — to keep the peace.”

Only 32 percent think Obama has done a good job in clearly stating U.S. policy against the IS group. More than six in 10 of them think it’s either not likely or only moderately likely that the U.S. and its partners will achieve their goal in fighting IS.

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ARE AMERICANS FOLLOWING DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAQ, SYRIA?

While 47 percent of those surveyed said there’s a very or extremely high risk of another terror attack inside the United States, just a third said they have been keenly following the news about the U.S. military action against IS. An additional 38 percent said they were following the action somewhat closely, and 31 percent said they were keeping up not too closely or not closely at all.

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DO PEOPLE SUPPORT THE AIRSTRIKES?

While Americans support the airstrike, when it comes to supporting the idea of deploying U.S. ground troops, respondents were more guarded.

Thirty-seven percent said they opposed putting American forces on the ground, 33 percent favored the idea and 28 percent said they were neither for nor against it.

Obama has said repeatedly that he has no plans to send ground troops to Iraq or Syria. However, 28 percent thought it was very or extremely likely that he would, and an additional 45 percent thought it was moderately likely. Just 24 percent said it was not likely.

Michael Rainwater, 64, of Sammanish, Washington, doesn’t particularly want to see U.S. troops sent in, but thinks they might be deployed at some point.

“I think all of these things tend to escalate,” he said. “You can’t keep pouring fuel on the fire and expect the fire to get smaller. So every time we bomb or send in armed drones, you are creating more terrorists.”

He does not think, though, that the Islamic State is in a position to mount a 9/11-style attack against the U.S.

Said Rainwater, a retired software company owner: “It is more of a criminal entity because basically what they are doing is kidnapping people for ransom, taking over oil refineries for the income.”

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The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were given free access.

 


AP-GfK Poll: Disapproval, doubt dominate on Ebola

By LAURAN NEERGAARD and EMILY SWANSON

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans have at least some confidence that the U.S. health care system will prevent Ebola from spreading in this country but generally disapprove of the way President Barack Obama and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have handled the crisis so far.

Most disapprove of Obama’s handling of the Ebola outbreak, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll. Just 1 in 5 approve of the CDC’s work on Ebola so far, and only 3 in 10 say they trust that public health officials are sharing complete and accurate information about the virus. And only 18 percent have deep confidence that local hospitals could safely treat a patient with Ebola.

Amid worry here, most Americans say the U.S. also should be doing more to stop Ebola in West Africa. Health authorities have been clear: Until that epidemic ends, travelers could unknowingly carry the virus anywhere.

“It seems to me we have a crisis of two things. We have a crisis of science, and either people don’t understand it or … they don’t believe it,” said Dr. Joseph McCormick, an Ebola expert at the University of Texas School of Public Health. And, “we have a crisis in confidence in government.”

Some findings from the AP-GfK poll:

HEALTH CARE GETS MIXED REVIEWS

Nearly a quarter of Americans are very confident the U.S. health care system could prevent Ebola from spreading widely, and 40 percent are moderately confident.

But nearly half don’t think their local hospital could safely treat an Ebola case, and 31 percent are only moderately confident that it could.

After all, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., at first was mistakenly sent home by a Dallas emergency room, only to return far sicker a few days later. Then, two nurses caring for him somehow became infected. The family of one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, said Wednesday doctors no longer could detect Ebola in her as of Tuesday evening.

Asked how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handled those cases, 42 percent of people disapprove and 22 percent approve.

FEAR VS. KNOWLEDGE

Despite months of headlines about Ebola, nearly a quarter of Americans acknowledge they don’t really understand how it spreads. Another 36 percent say they understand it only moderately well.

Ebola doesn’t spread through the air or by casual contact, and patients aren’t contagious until symptoms begin. Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, feces, urine, saliva, semen or sweat.

People who say they do understand are less concerned about Ebola spreading widely in this country. Among those who feel they have a good grasp on how it spreads, 46 percent are deeply concerned; that rises to 58 percent among those who don’t understand it as well.

Likewise, a third of those with more knowledge of Ebola are confident in the health system’s ability to stem an outbreak, and 27 percent think their local hospital could safely treat it. Among those who don’t understand Ebola, fewer than 1 in 5 shares either confidence.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE

A whopping 93 percent of people think training of doctors and nurses at local hospitals is necessary to deal with Ebola, with nearly all of them, 78 percent, deeming it a definite need.

Nine out of 10 also think it’s necessary to tighten screening of people entering the U.S. from the outbreak zone, including 69 percent who say that’s definitely needed.

Some would go even further: Almost half say it’s definitely necessary to prevent everyone traveling from places affected by Ebola from entering the U.S. Another 29 percent say it’s probably necessary to do so.

More than 8 in 10 favor sending medical aid to Ebola-stricken countries and increasing government funding to develop vaccines and treatments.

SOME NEW STEPS

The CDC had issued safe-care guidelines to hospitals long before Duncan arrived last month, and it made some changes this week after the unexpected nurse infections. Now, the CDC says hospitals should use full-body garb and hoods and follow rigorous rules in removing the equipment to avoid contamination, with a site manager supervising. Possibly more important, workers should repeatedly practice the donning and doffing and prove they can do it correctly before being allowed near any future patients.

While Duncan wasn’t contagious during his flight, his arrival spurred U.S. officials to begin checking passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for fever, an early Ebola symptom, just like they’re checked before leaving those countries.

Wednesday, the CDC moved to fill a gap in that screening: Starting next week, all of those travelers must be monitored for symptoms for 21 days, the Ebola incubation period. They’ll be told to take their temperature twice a day and must report the readings to state or local health officials.

That’s not just for West African visitors. It includes U.S. government employees, who had been doing their own 21-day fever watches upon return from fighting the epidemic, as well as doctors and other workers for aid organizations and journalists.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans want tighter Ebola screening, concerned government hasn’t done enough

By LAURAN NEERGAARD and EMILY SWANSON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans overwhelmingly want tougher screening for Ebola, according to a poll released as federal health authorities took new steps to do just that.

Many are worried about Ebola spreading here, and two-thirds say the government hasn’t done enough to prevent that from happening, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

Some things to know:

THE PUBLIC WANTS MORE TRAVEL SCRUTINY

The AP-GfK poll found 9 out of 10 people — unusually high agreement on any issue — think it’s necessary to tighten screening procedures for people entering the U.S. from the outbreak zone in West Africa, including 69 percent who say it’s definitely needed.

Some would go even further: Almost half say it’s definitely necessary to prevent everyone traveling from places affected by Ebola from entering the U.S. Another 29 percent say it’s probably necessary to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned since summer that an infected traveler eventually would arrive in the U.S., and it finally happened last month when Thomas Eric Duncan developed symptoms of Ebola a few days after arriving from Liberia. He died on Oct. 8.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING

While Duncan wasn’t contagious during his flight, his arrival spurred U.S. officials to begin checking passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for a fever, an early Ebola symptom, just like they’re checked before leaving those countries.

The AP-GfK poll suggested that wasn’t enough.

Wednesday, the CDC moved to fill a gap in that screening: Starting next week, all of those travelers must be monitored for symptoms for 21 days, the Ebola incubation period. They’ll be told to take their temperature twice a day and must report the readings to state or local health officials.

That’s not just for West African visitors. It includes U.S. government employees, who had been doing their own 21-day fever watches upon return from fighting the epidemic, as well as doctors and other workers for aid organizations, and journalists.

WHY NOT A TRAVEL BAN

The Obama administration says that’s not on the table. Already, there are no direct flights to the U.S. from the outbreak zone, and the airport with the most travelers from West Africa — New York’s Kennedy airport — has averaged 34 travelers a day since entry screening began. Health experts say a travel ban would prevent medical supplies and health workers from reaching West Africa, and could drive travelers underground and hinder screening of potential Ebola carriers.

AMERICANS FEAR EBOLA’S SPREAD HERE

Nearly half of Americans are very or extremely concerned that Ebola will spread widely in the U.S. After all, two nurses caught it while caring for Duncan.

Health experts had hoped that fear would start to dwindle, considering that people who shared an apartment with Duncan while he was sick emerged healthy from quarantine this week — showing the virus isn’t all that easy to catch.

FEAR VS. KNOWLEDGE

But despite months of headlines about Ebola, nearly a quarter of Americans acknowledge they don’t really understand how Ebola spreads. Another 36 percent say they understand it only moderately well.

People who say they do are less concerned about Ebola spreading widely in this country. Among those who feel they have a good grasp on how it spreads, 46 percent are deeply concerned; that rises to 58 percent among those who don’t understand it as well.

Ebola doesn’t spread through the air or by casual contact, and patients aren’t contagious until symptoms begin. Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, feces, urine, saliva, semen or sweat.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Voters see GOP win in the offing, but they aren’t too fond of their choices

By JENNIFER AGIESTA and EMILY SWANSON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two weeks before Election Day, most of the nation’s likely voters now expect the Republican Party to take control of the U.S. Senate, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. And by a growing margin, they say that’s the outcome they’d like to see.

But the survey suggests many will cringe when they cast those ballots. Most likely voters have a negative impression of the Republican Party, and 7 in 10 are dissatisfied by its leaders in Congress.

The Democrats win few accolades themselves. Impressions of the party among likely voters have grown more negative in the past month. In fact, Democrats are more trusted than the GOP on just two of nine top issues, the poll showed.

The economy remains the top issue for likely voters — 91 percent call it “extremely” or “very” important. And the GOP has increased its advantage as the party more trusted to handle the issue to a margin of 39 percent to 31 percent.

With control of the Senate at stake, both parties say they are relying on robust voter-turnout operations — and monster campaign spending — to lift their candidates in the final days. But the poll suggests any appeals they’ve made so far haven’t done much to boost turnout among those already registered. The share who report that they are certain to vote in this year’s contests has risen just slightly since September, and interest in news about the campaign has held steady.

Among all adults, 38 percent say they’d like the Democrats to wind up in control of Congress, to 36 percent for the Republicans. But the GOP holds a significant lead among those most likely to cast ballots: 47 percent of these voters favor a Republican controlled-Congress, 39 percent a Democratic one. That’s a shift in the GOP’s favor since an AP-GfK poll in late September, when the two parties ran about evenly among likely voters.

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

In all, the poll finds that 55 percent of likely voters now expect Republicans to win control of the Senate, up from 47 percent last month. Democrats have grown slightly more pessimistic on this count since September, with 25 percent expecting the GOP to take control now compared with 18 percent earlier.

What’s deeply important to likely voters after the economy? About three-quarters say health care, terrorism, the threat posed by the Islamic State group and Ebola.

On foreign affairs, Republicans have the upper hand. By a 22-point margin, voters trust the GOP more to protect the country, and they give the Republicans a 10-point lead as more trusted to handle international crises. Democrats have a slim advantage on health care, 36 percent to 32 percent.

Although handling the Ebola outbreak was among the top issues for likely voters, the poll shows little sign that either party could capitalize on fears of the virus as an election issue. More than half said either that they trust both parties equally (29 percent) or that they don’t trust either party (24 percent) to handle public health issues like Ebola. The remaining respondents were about equally split between trusting Republicans (25 percent) and Democrats (22 percent).

Same-sex marriage? Only 32 percent said that was an extremely or very important issue to them personally, identical to the percentage saying so in September, before the Supreme Court effectively allowed same-sex marriages to proceed in five more states.

The poll, which asked likely voters whom they preferred among the candidates in the congressional district where they live, found Republicans hold an edge in the upcoming elections. Forty percent said they would vote for the GOP candidate in their House district, while 32 percent said the Democrat. About a quarter backed a third-party candidate or were undecided.

Although likely voters appear more apt to take the GOP side in the upcoming elections, the poll finds little difference between those most likely to cast a ballot and others on negative perceptions of the nation’s direction and leadership. Among all adults as well as just the likely voters, 9 in 10 disapprove of Congress, 7 in 10 say the nation is heading in the wrong direction, 6 in 10 disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president and 6 in 10 describe the nation’s economy as “poor.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Among 968 likely voters, the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.6 points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed to this report.

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta

Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/el_swan

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll finds most NFL fans believe Commissioner Roger Goodell should keep job

By RACHEL COHEN, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Most NFL fans believe Commissioner Roger Goodell should keep his job after his handling of recent domestic violence cases, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll.

Only 32 percent say Goodell should lose his job over the issue, with 66 percent saying he shouldn’t.

Support for his handling of the cases is much lower, though, with 42 percent saying they disapprove. The same percentage neither approve nor disapprove, with just 15 percent approving.

Goodell initially suspended Ray Rice for two games after the Baltimore Ravens running back was charged with assaulting his then-fiancee. The commissioner defended the punishment at first, before admitting more than a month later that he “didn’t get it right.”

When a video of the assault later surfaced, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely, saying the images constituted new evidence. Rice was released earlier that day by the Ravens.

The poll shows strong support for keeping Rice off the field for at least some period of time. Forty-three percent of fans say Rice should never be allowed to play again. Just 7 percent say he should be able to play now, with 49 percent saying he should be permitted to return after missing more time.

Opinions differed by gender and race. Slightly more than half of women say Rice should never be allowed to play again, compared with 37 percent of men. Just 19 percent of black fans say he should receive a permanent ban, while 46 percent of white fans support that.

Respondents were more receptive to the idea of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson returning to the field. Peterson is currently on paid leave while he faces child abuse charges.

Fifty-four percent of fans say he should be allowed to play again if he is found not guilty, and another 29 percent say he should be able to return regardless of the case’s outcome. Only 15 percent say he should never play again.

Answers to this question also varied by gender and race. Thirty-four percent of men say Peterson should be allowed to return under any circumstances, compared with 22 percent of women. And 45 percent of black fans say he should be able to return no matter the verdict, while only 25 percent of white fans say that.

The poll suggests that the recent spate of highly publicized domestic violence cases has made a small dent in the NFL’s popularity. An AP-GfK Poll conducted in January found that 49 percent of respondents considered themselves fans of pro football. That number dropped to 43 percent in the current poll.

In January, 19 percent of respondents said their interest in the sport had increased in the previous five years, with 12 percent saying it had decreased. This time, 12 percent say it has increased while 15 percent say it has decreased.

Of the group with less interest, 42 percent say the recent domestic violence arrests have been an extremely or very important factor in that drop.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Sept. 25-29 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It included online interviews with 1,845 adults, including 836 NFL fans. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents and plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for the NFL fans.

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AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: Americans not confident in US government’s ability to minimize range of threats

By JILL COLVIN and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans lack confidence in the government’s ability to protect their personal safety and economic security, a sign that their widespread unease about the state of the nation extends far beyond politics, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll.

With Election Day about a month away, more than half those in the survey said Washington can do little to effectively lessen threats such as climate change, mass shootings, racial tensions, economic uncertainty and an unstable job market.

“I think what we’ve got going on here in America is the perfect storm of not good things,” said Joe Teasdale, 59, who lives in southwest Wisconsin and works as an assistant engineer at a casino.

For many of those questioned in the poll, conducted before doctors in Texas diagnosed a Liberian man with the Ebola virus, the concern starts with the economy.

The poll found that 9 in 10 of those most likely to vote in the Nov. 4 election call the economy an extremely or very important issue. Teasdale is among those who say the slow recovery from the recession is a top concern.

Despite improvements nationally, business is far from booming in his state, Teasdale said. He’s been supplementing his stagnant salary by renovating and renting out duplexes and has little faith the situation will improve soon. He wants government to get out of the way of business.

“If you’re putting so much restriction on them where it isn’t practical for them to expand or grow, why should they?” Teasdale asked.

Those surveyed also pointed to events such as the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the fatal police shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old and the beheading of a woman in an Oklahoma food processing plant, apparently at the hand of a suspended co-worker.

“This is the first time I’ve felt insecure in my own country,” said Jan Thomas, 75, of Stevensville, Montana. “Especially after the beheading in Oklahoma. That’s scary.”

The poll found that Democrats tend to express more faith in the government’s ability to protect them than do Republicans. Yet even among Democrats, just 27 percent are confident the government can keep them safe from terrorist attacks. Fewer than 1 in 5 say so on each of the other issues, including climate change.

“There’s too many people who still don’t believe that it’s happening,” bemoaned Felicia Duncan, 53, who lives in Sharonville, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, and works as an office manager at a mechanical contracting company.

Urbanites tend to be more confident the government will keep them safe from terrorist threats than do people living in suburbs and rural areas. Younger Americans are more confident than older people that the government can minimize the threat of mass shootings. When it comes to quelling racial tensions, Hispanics are more confident than are blacks and whites.

Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, and as the Obama administration conducts airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, only 1 in 5 in the poll say they are extremely or very confident the government can keep them safe from another terrorist attack. Four in 10 express moderate confidence.

While there has not been a large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, roughly one-third of Americans say they are not too confident or not confident at all in the government’s ability to prevent another.

Bill Denison, 85, who lives in Bradenton, Florida, is among the minority who thinks the government is doing a good job keeping citizens safe, at least when it comes to preventing domestic attacks.

“Overall I think that the best job that we’ve done in this country is with anti-terrorism,” he said. “We’re doing a magnificent job and so far it’s been pretty successful.”

Still, he expressed disbelief at the recent security breaches involving Secret Service agents, including an incident in which a man scaled the White House fence and made his way deep into the executive mansion.

“The fact that a guy can run into the White House is pretty disturbing,” he said. “But we’re only human. And humans are going to make mistakes.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted September 25-29, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,845 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were given free access.

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Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Half think US at high risk of terror attack, yet fewer are closely following airstrikes

By DEB RIECHMANN and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Half of Americans think there’s a high risk of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, yet only a third are closely following news of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic extremists in the Middle East.

Most people do think the airstrikes are a good idea. Two-thirds of those questioned for an Associated Press-GfK poll say they favor the offensive by the U.S. and allies. And, despite, more than a decade of costly war, about one-third favor going beyond that and putting American military boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria.

President Barack Obama says he has no plans to send ground troops to either country. A little more than a third say they are opposed to the idea, and about one in four say they neither favor nor oppose it.

That’s thousands of miles away. What about concern at home?

According to the poll, most think there’s a high risk of a terrorist attack inside the United States, 53 percent, though just 20 percent call it an “extremely high risk.” An additional 32 percent say the nation is at moderate risk of a terrorist attack and 12 percent say it faces a low risk of terror attacks.

The poll has not asked that specific question in the past. However, the finding tracks with Pew Research Center data from July indicating that concern had ebbed somewhat since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

This summer, the Pew survey said 59 percent of Americans were “very” or “somewhat worried” that there would soon be another terrorist attack in the United States. That’s lower than the 73 percent that Pew found were concerned, following 9/11, that another attack was imminent and about the same as the 58 percent who were worried about another attack after the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

There hasn’t been a massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Those in the AP-GfK survey are split on whether they approve of the way Obama is handling the threat from terrorism and specifically the threat posed by the Islamic State group. About half approve and about half disapprove of Obama’s actions to confront the threat. Still, those figures are better than Obama’s approval ratings for handling top domestic issues. Just 40 percent approve of his handling of the economy, 41 percent approve of his work on health care and 34 percent approve of the way he’s handling immigration.

Douglas Dowden, 49, a native of San Diego who now lives in central California, said he thinks the threat from the Islamic State group is overblown. He doesn’t support Obama’s decision to launch airstrikes.

“How many terror threat attacks happen in countries like say Spain, Italy, the U.S.? It’s not that often. I have more fear of what some whack job locally is going to do — that’s more of a concern to me than some potential threat from some extremist group,” Dowden said.

Dowden is among the 37 percent surveyed who said they were following news about the airstrikes “somewhat closely.” About 32 percent of those surveyed are paying close attention to the military action, and 30 percent say they’re barely monitoring the U.S. military action.

“I’m really not following it. There is so much terrible news and I’d rather follow the domestic news than the foreign news — but I still am interested in what’s going on,” said Betty Masket, a 91-year-old retired government health science administrator from Chevy Chase, Maryland. “I really feel sorry for Obama. I think he’s doing the best he can.”

Keith Fehser, 55, a commodities trader from suburban Chicago, says Americans need to see terrorism as an extremely important issue, yet they don’t.

“I just think it’s only going to get worse,” Fehser said. “Even though the government tries its best to keep on top of it, it’s just lunacy out there with what can be done by just small groups of people.”

He said most people he talks with don’t care much about the U.S. airstrikes on Iraq and Syria. “It’s a long way away. As long as we’re not letting our own people get killed, I don’t think they care that much,” he said, adding that he would be “very disgusted” if American combat troops were sent back to the region.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Sept. 25-29, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,845 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were given free access.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Slackers aren’t the only ones dazed and confused by some big US political issues

By CONNIE CASS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Confused by President Barack Obama’s health care law? How about the debate over government surveillance? The way the Federal Reserve affects interest rates?

You’re far from alone.

Most people in the United States say the issues facing the country are getting harder to fathom.

It’s not just those tuning out politics who feel perplexed.

People who vote regularly, follow news about November’s election or simply feel a civic duty to stay informed are most likely to say that issues have become “much more complicated” over the past decade, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

Karla Lynn of Lavaca, Arkansas, blames politicians who would rather snipe at each other than honestly explain the nation’s problems in straightforward terms.

“They’ll spin everything,” said Lynn, 61, a retired product developer. “You’ve got to wade through so much muck to try to find the truth.”

David Stewart blames the deluge from social media, partisan blogs and 24-hour news sites for complicating things.

At one time people would only see a news story about a violent organization such as the Islamic State group, he said, but now they watch the militants’ videos of beheadings online.

“People get a little overwhelmed by all the information about what’s going on in the world,” said Stewart, 40, a salesman at a home improvement store in Georgetown, Kentucky. The father of three said it takes time from an already busy life to go online and sort out “what’s fluff, what’s been engineered, and what’s actually true and believable.”

The issue that stumps Stewart most? The health care overhaul.

Nearly three-fourths of Americans find it difficult, according to the AP-GfK poll, and about 4 in 10 say it’s very hard to understand.

The law is complex; politicians even say so.

Republicans were condemning it as a regulatory morass even before it passed. When the federal website enrolling people crashed last year, Obama himself pointed to the enormous size of the undertaking. “It’s complicated,” he said. “It’s hard.”

Politicians do try to make issues sound simpler. They like to invoke your own family budget when talking about the national debt.

But in the poll, confidence in dealing with household problems didn’t offer much help in understanding national matters.

For example, most under age 30 said it’s easy to protect your privacy and financial information online. But most young adults think it’s hard to understand the National Security Agency’s data collection programs. Americans older than 50 find both personal computer security and the NSA issue difficult.

Interest rates? Wealthier people are more likely to find rates on personal loans easy to understand. But the poll shows no difference by income in comprehending the Fed’s interest rate policy.

Then there are international issues.

In his speech to the United Nations last week, Obama spoke of terrorists in Iraq and Syria as the type of danger that threatens a faster-paced, interconnected world.

What began 13 years ago as a U.S. campaign to destroy al-Qaida has evolved into battles against numerous offshoots.

“Right now, in my estimation, the problems are much more variegated and much more complex and diffuse than they’ve ever been,” said Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown University historian who has studied terrorism for four decades.

Among Americans strongly interested in political news, nearly 6 in 10 say political issues facing the United States are “much more complicated” than a decade ago.

Of course, creating Medicare and waging the Cold War weren’t easy.

Perhaps nostalgia blurs people’s judgment of current troubles?

Sheila Suess Kennedy, director of the Indiana University Center for Civic Literacy, thinks there’s more to it.

“Not only are we dealing with a more complex environment, we are dealing with a more ambiguous environment,” Kennedy said. “People want ‘this is good and this is bad.’ Increasingly we live with ‘there’s black and there’s white and there’s a whole lot of gray.’”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Results from online interviews with 1,044 adults have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. Some question wording used in this survey comes from the General Social Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost.

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AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Full story: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/356e4efefb204b10b2330ac28d7a03eb/poll-confused-issues-day-join-club

Topline results and methodology: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

 


AP-GfK POLL: PARENTS UNCOMFORTABLE WITH YOUTH FOOTBALL

Parents are worried about their children playing football, but most haven’t decided to keep their kids from putting on a helmet and stepping onto the field.

According to an Associated Press-GfK poll, nearly half of parents said they’re not comfortable letting their child play football amid growing uncertainty about the long-term impact of concussions.

In the poll, 44 percent of parents weren’t comfortable with their child playing football. The same percentage was uncomfortable with ice hockey, and 45 percent were uncomfortable with participation in wrestling. Only five percent, though, said they have discouraged their child from playing in the last two years as concern over head injuries has increased at all levels of the game.

The majority of parents said they are comfortable with participation in a host of other sports — including swimming, track and field, basketball, soccer, baseball and softball, among others.

The AP-GfK poll was conducted from July 24-28. It included interviews with 1,044 adults and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The parents’ concern comes as several high-profile lawsuits have challenged how concussions have been addressed in pro and college sports. Thousands of pro players sued the NFL and a $675 million settlement that would compensate them for concussion-related claims is pending. A tentative settlement with the NCAA, meanwhile, would create a $70 million fund to test thousands of current and former college athletes for brain trauma.

Youth and high school programs have increased training available for coaches, and helmet companies are releasing new designs with the hope that they reduce the force of impact. But research is murky about whether or not they will be effective.

Participation statistics also show only a slight decline in the overall number of high school students playing football.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, nearly 1.1 million students played 11-man football during the 2012-13 school year. The number was down approximately 10,000 from the year before and more than 20,000 since 2009-08.

Cathy Curtin, a high school rifle coach in northeast Pennsylvania, is one parent who has discouraged her children from playing football in recent years.

Curtin, 52, has gone through concussion-related training for her job, but one issue that concerns her is how much of identifying a head injury relies on the student’s input following a collision. She said her 21-year-old son “would have said anything” to remain in the game while in high school, including hiding symptoms such as dizziness from a trainer or coach.

“Our training staff is good, but you can’t always know,” Curtin said. “You’re basing whether they can play on their say. And they are 16-year-old kids, 17-year-old kids who want more than anything to get out there and play.”

Curtin said her younger son broke his collarbone and leg while playing football as a freshman.

“Nowhere in that time did they check him for a concussion,” Curtin said. “So, if he got hit hard enough to break his collar bone and his leg, then how hard did he hit the ground, too?”

Football wasn’t the only sport Curtin said she was uncomfortable with. She also worries about hockey, wrestling and other high-impact competitions such as gymnastics and cheerleading. She’s encouraged by new advances — such as chin straps that change color when a player may have suffered a concussion — aimed at reducing and identifying head injuries, but she is also skeptical about school districts’ ability to afford new helmets.

JeMare Williams, 43, is no stranger to the possibility of getting a concussion while playing football. He thinks he “probably” suffered from one while in high school in St. Louis.

“I don’t really know, but I remember being hurt, being dizzy,” Williams said. “But during that time, there wasn’t a specific diagnosis like now.”

Now living in Henderson, Nevada, and with 17- and 11-year-old sons who play the game, Williams — an auto mechanic — has the same injury concerns as many parents. That said, he’s comfortable with his sons playing football — or any other sport they choose.

One of the primary reasons for Williams’ comfort level is because of the increased attention paid to head injuries over the last few years. He said coaches are trained more closely now to teach proper tackling techniques, as well as watch players for signs of concussions.

“There’s a lot of publicity on (concussions) now, and I think that makes it better,” Williams said. “So, I’m not as worried now.”


AP-GfK Poll: Most say the US is heading the wrong way, hope for new direction come November

By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has checked out, and the American people have noticed.

Three-quarters of Americans doubt the federal government will address the important problems facing the country this year, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

All told, only 28 percent of Americans think the nation is heading in the right direction, the lowest level in August of an election year since 2008. It’s about on par with 2006, when Democrats took control of the U.S. House amid a backlash to the Iraq war.

This time around, it’s not clear whether either party will benefit from the disaffection.

One-third say they hope the Republicans take control of Congress outright this fall — which the GOP can accomplish with a net gain of six seats in the U.S. Senate while holding the U.S. House. The same share want to see Democrats lead Congress — a far less likely possibility.

The final third? They say it just doesn’t matter who takes control of Congress.

Overall, just 13 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress overall is handling its job.

There are some signs in the new poll that Republicans have gained ground as the height of the campaign approaches. In May, they trailed Democrats a bit on who ought to control Congress. Partisans are about equally likely to say they’d like to see their own in charge of Congress after November 4, with about three-quarters in each party saying they hope their side winds up in control. Democrats are a bit less apt to say they want their own party to win than they were in May, 74 percent in the new poll compared with 80 percent then.

And the GOP now holds narrow advantages over Democrats on handling an array of top issues, including the economy, immigration and the federal budget.

But neither party is trusted much to manage the federal government, with 27 percent having faith in the GOP to 24 percent in Democrats. More people, 31 percent, say they trust neither party to run the federal government.

Fewer people have confidence in the federal government’s ability to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014 than at the start of the year, with 74 percent saying they have little or no confidence. That’s a slight change from the 70 percent who said so in a December AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey. That shift in confidence stems from a small drop-off among Democrats. While 56 percent lacked confidence in December, 62 percent say the same now.

Overall, few express faith in those currently on Capitol Hill. Just 36 percent say they’d like to see their own member of Congress re-elected, 62 percent say they want someone else to win this November. So far, just three House incumbents have been ousted in primaries this year, and none in the Senate. The Congressional approval rating, 13 percent in the new poll, lags behind President Barack Obama’s 40 percent.

Though the economy pushed the nation’s “right direction” figures to historic lows in the fall of 2008, that does not seem to be the culprit in the new poll. About a third (35 percent) say the economy is in good shape, about the same as in May, and 58 percent say the economy has stayed about the same in the past month.

The decline in optimism about the country’s path in the new poll seems to mirror those in October 2013 and August 2011, when congressional inaction led to the threat of a government shutdown in 2011 and a partial one in 2013. Among Democrats, the share saying the nation is heading in the right direction dipped 11 points since May, to 49 percent, while among independents, it’s down slightly to 23 percent. Among Republicans, the 9 percent saying the country is heading the right way is similar to May. The October 2013 and August 2011 declines in right direction were also driven by sharp drops among Democrats and independents.

Among those who say they are highly likely to vote this fall, just 8 percent say they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, though 43 percent would like to see their member of Congress re-elected, a bit higher than among all adults. Republicans have an edge among this group as the party more preferred to control Congress, 43 percent to 34 percent, with 23 percent saying it doesn’t matter.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,044 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. It is larger for subgroups.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

 


AP-GfK Poll: No agreement on how to pay for highways

By JOAN LOWY and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Small wonder Congress has kept federal highway and transit programs teetering on the edge of insolvency for years, unable to find a politically acceptable long-term source of funds. The public can’t make up its mind on how to pay for them either.

Six in 10 Americans think the economic benefits of good highways, railroads and airports outweigh the cost to taxpayers. Yet there is scant support for some of the most frequently discussed options for paying for construction of new roads or the upkeep of existing ones, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Among those who drive places multiple times per week, 62 percent say the benefits outweigh the costs. Among those who drive less than once a week or not at all, 55 percent say the costs of road improvement are worthwhile.

Yet a majority of all Americans — 58 percent — oppose raising federal gasoline taxes to fund transportation projects such as the repair, replacement or expansion of roads and bridges. Only 14 percent support an increase. And by a better than 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose having private companies pay for construction of new roads and bridges in exchange for the right to charge tolls. Moving to a usage tax based on how many miles a vehicle drives also draws more opposition than support — 40 percent oppose it, while 20 percent support it.

Support for shifting more responsibility for paying for such projects to state and local government is a tepid 30 percent.

“Congress is actually reflecting what people want,” said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a transportation think tank. “People want to have a federal (transportation) program and they don’t want to pay for it.”

Last week, Congress cobbled together $10.8 billion to keep transportation aid flowing to states by changing how employers fund worker pension programs, extending customs user fees and transferring money from a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks. The money was needed to make up a shortfall between aid promised to states and revenue raised by the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax and the 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax, which haven’t been increased in more than 20 years.

It’s the fifth time in the last six years that Congress has patched a hole in the federal Highway Trust Fund that pays for highway and transit aid. Each time it gets more difficult for lawmakers to find the money without increasing the federal budget deficit. Critics described the pension funding changes used this time as budget gimmicks that would cost the government more in the long run and undermine employee pension programs.

The latest patch cleared Congress about three hours before midnight last Thursday, the day before the Transportation Department said it would begin cutting back aid payments to states. The current fix is only expected to cover the revenue gap through next May, when Congress will be back where it started unless lawmakers act sooner.

The most direct solution would be to raise fuel taxes. That’s what three blue-ribbon federal commissions have recommended. But opposition to a gas tax increase cuts across party lines, although Republicans are more apt to oppose an increase, 70 percent, than Democrats, 52 percent.

“Every time we turn around there’s another tax, and our gas taxes are so high now,” said James Lane, 52, of Henry County in rural south-central Virginia, who described himself as leaning toward the GOP.

Lane favors allowing companies to pay for the construction of new or expanded roads and bridges in exchange for the right impose tolls on motorists, often for many decades. There have been projects like that in Virginia, but since those roads are in more populated areas of the state where he doesn’t drive it makes sense to have the people who use them pay for them, he said.

But Michael Murphy, 63, a data services contractor who lives near San Antonio, Texas, where a high-speed public-private toll road is scheduled to open this fall, said he’d rather see gas taxes increased than tolls imposed on drivers. Roads benefit everyone, even if indirectly, so it’s only fair that everyone who drives pays something toward their cost, he said.

A majority of those surveyed, 56 percent, say traffic in the area where they live has gotten worse in the last five years. Only 6 percent say traffic has improved in their area, and 33 percent that it’s stayed about the same.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,044 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents, larger for subgroups.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy


AP-GfK poll: Americans ready to close the book on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Three in four Americans think history will judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as failures, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows that about the same percentage think it was right to pull forces from the two countries.

Americans surveyed in last month’s poll were not optimistic about the chance that a stable democratic government will be established in either country. Seventy-eight percent said it was either not too likely or not at all likely in Afghanistan and 80 percent said the same about Iraq.

Roughly three out of four Americans polled think that in hindsight, each war will be deemed as an outright “complete failure” or “more of a failure than success.”

A majority of those polled, or 70 percent, said the United States was right to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2011 and pull most U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by December. The two conflicts have consumed the nation for more than a decade and claimed the lives of 6,800 U.S. troops.

Nelson Philip, 73, of Oswego, Illinois, is of two minds. He judges the Afghan war a failure, but wants U.S. troops to stay in countries that remain in turmoil.

“What’s so successful about it? We didn’t do anything there. The Taliban. They’re still there. We haven’t done anything and now we’re pulling everybody out of there,” Philip said. “And now this Islamic group is over there taking over Iraq.”

The situations in Afghanistan and Iraq are distinct. But in each, the U.S. has spent more than a decade trying to set up democratic governments that could effectively police their own territories and stamp out threats to the American homeland. And in both countries that objective is in peril — their futures threatened by a combination of poor leadership, weak institutions, interethnic rivalry, insurgencies and extremist rebellions.

Americans surveyed in the poll think more bad news is on the horizon.

Fifty percent — up 18 points in the past seven months — think the situation in Afghanistan will get worse. Fifty-eight percent — up from 16 percent in December 2009 — expect conditions in Iraq will worsen. The poll was conducted shortly after Sunni extremists conducted an offensive that shattered security in Iraq.

The rapid advance by the extremist Islamic State group, which captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and overran much of northern and western Iraq, has plunged the country into its worst crisis since the withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of 2011.

Melody Fisher, a 58-year-old midwife from Prescott, Ariz., was among the roughly 25 percent who didn’t think it was time yet for American troops to return from Afghanistan, where about 2,340 U.S. servicemen and women have been killed. She said she wasn’t convinced that the U.S. had finished its work there.

“I used to work with refuges so I’m very aware of the conditions that people have to live in,” said Fisher, a midwife who spent time helping resettle Cambodian refugees. “Our country, our nation, has no idea about the day-to-day things that people have to go through in many places.”

People over 50 expressed far more pessimism about the ultimate outcome of the two conflicts than their younger counterparts.

Sixty-two percent of those over 50 said the situation in Afghanistan would get worse in the coming year, compared with 40 percent of younger Americans. On Iraq, that gap is even larger, with 72 percent age 50 or older expecting things to get worse compared with 47 percent of those under age 50.

Older Americans also are more likely to think the U.S. war in Afghanistan will be judged a failure in the future; 86 percent of those 50 or older feel that way, compared with 64 percent among those under age 50. They are also more likely to doubt that a stable democratic government will be established there; 88 percent age 50 or older say it’s unlikely to happen compared with 70 percent age 18 to 49.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,044 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. It is larger for subgroups.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Associated Press director of polling Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


Foreign policy no longer a strong point for Obama as troubles pile up across globe, AP-GfK poll shows

By CONNIE CASS and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign policy used to be a bright spot in Americans’ dimming opinion of President Barack Obama. Not anymore. Associated Press-GfK polling found a spring and summer of discontent with the president’s handling of world events.

Obama’s consistently low marks across crises such as the fighting in Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Hamas could benefit Republicans aiming to win control Congress in the fall.

“The problem is saying something and not doing anything — making grandiose threats and never following any of them up,” said Dwight Miller, 71, a retiree and volunteer firefighter in Robertson County, Texas. Miller, who describes himself as a libertarian-leaning Republican, says Obama should either stay out of other nations’ business or commit to going “all in.”

In Hawaii, another retiree, Kent Killam, also worries about the U.S. response to cascading troubles in Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere. But he blames former President George W. Bush for eroding the nation’s clout abroad and Republican lawmakers for limiting Obama’s ability to act.

“I’m not saying it’s going well at all,” said Killam, 72, a Democratic-leaning independent. “On the other hand, I don’t think he has too many options.”

The foreign conflicts that have consumed so much of Washington’s attention lately aren’t rated as especially pressing by most Americans surveyed for the AP-GfK poll. It’s unclear how their unhappiness with Obama’s performance will affect the midterm elections in November.

Asked about world trouble spots:

—42 percent say the conflict between Israel and Hamas is “very” or “extremely” important to them; 60 percent disapprove of the way Obama has handled it.

 

—40 percent consider the situation in Afghanistan highly important; 60 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.

 

—38 percent give high importance to the conflict in Ukraine; 57 percent disapprove of what Obama has done about that.

 

—38 percent find the situation in Iraq of pressing importance; 57 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.

 

Opinion of Obama’s foreign policy has slid nearly as low as his overall approval rating.

 

Just 43 percent were OK with the president’s handling of foreign relations in the new poll, while 40 percent approved how he’s doing his job overall. AP-GfK polls in March and May show a similar picture.

 

The late-March poll, which came after Russia seized upon an uprising in Ukraine to annex the Crimean Peninsula, marked a significant drop from January’s 49 percent foreign policy rating. In September 2012, shortly before Obama’s re-election, it was 57 percent.

 

Republicans line up more uniformly behind their party on foreign policy than Democrats do.

 

Asked whom they trust more to protect the country, 71 percent of Republicans chose their party. Only 39 percent of Democrats said their party most; about as many Democrats trusted both parties equally.

 

Sixty-three percent of Republicans have more confidence in their party in an international crisis, while 44 percent of Democrats put faith in their party alone. Most Democrats did prefer their party for managing the U.S. image abroad — 51 percent said it would handle that better.

 

About half of independents don’t trust either major party in a world crisis.

 

“I think they’re both a little bit more aggressive than they need to be in using armies instead of going through the U.N.,” said Cameron Wooley, 18, of Orlando, Florida, who’s still deciding whom to support when she votes for the first time this year.

 

“Maybe if we didn’t spend these massive chunks of our budget on the military we wouldn’t have the other concerns we have because of money,” Wooley said. An aspiring opera singer attending the University of North Florida in the fall, she would like to see some of that defense money handed over to the states to spend on things like education and roads.

 

Only about half of those polled see foreign relations as highly important right now, and concern about the United States’ relationship with other countries hasn’t increased despite recent news.

 

Jay Lofstead, a Democrat in Albuquerque, New Mexico, wants to see more involvement in the world’s problems, and he gives Obama a mixed review.

 

“I’d like to see him get more involved on a humanitarian basis in more areas, not military support — no financial support, no weapons — but strictly humanitarian aid,” said Lofstead, 44, a supercomputer researcher at Sandia National Laboratories, who stressed that he speaks only for himself.

 

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,044 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. It is larger for subgroups.

 

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

 

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Online:

 

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

 


AP-GfK Poll: Sanctions and Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — U.S. and European sanctions against Russia’s energy and finance sectors are strong enough to cause deep, long-lasting damage within months unless Moscow persuades the West to repeal them by withdrawing support for Ukrainian insurgents.

The U.S. and European Union released details Wednesday of new sanctions aimed at hurting Russia’s economy without doing undue damage to their own trade interests, punishment for alleged Russian support for Ukrainian rebels and Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

The sanctions go further than earlier penalties — which had largely targeted individuals — by broadly limiting the trade of weapons and of technology that can be used in the oil and military industries. The EU also put its capital markets off-limits to Russian state-owned banks.

Experts said the sanctions wouldn’t have a tremendous impact in the short term, but if left in place for months will stifle development in the Russian economy and sap its financial sector. Already, economists have revised downward their predictions for Russian growth this year, with some saying the country will go into recession.

The biggest immediate impact is likely to come from the financial sanctions. U.S. officials said roughly 30 percent of Russia’s banking sector assets would now be constrained by sanctions.

In a first sign of concern, Russia’s central bank said Wednesday that it would support banks targeted by the penalties.

“State-owned banks are the core of the Russian banking system,” said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at financial services group BCS. He noted the banks are already having trouble raising money. “That would mean their ability to lend to other banks, smaller banks, is going to be more restricted also.”

Last year, about a third of the bonds issued by Russia’s majority state-owned banks — 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion) — were placed in EU financial markets, according to EU officials.

The measures against Russian banks, which exempt short-term borrowing, are meant to inflict just enough pain without causing them to collapse.

“The aim is not to destroy these banks,” said a senior EU official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity prior to the sanctions’ official announcement. “We do not want them to get into a liquidity crisis.”

Russia’s foreign ministry complained vocally about the sanctions, criticizing the U.S. for “advancing baseless claims” about its role in Ukraine in a “pretentious, prosecutorial manner.” It criticized the EU for allowing its policy to be “dictated by Washington.”

The key will be how long the sanctions stay in place.

In the short term, Russia has low public debt and enough money to support its banks. The lenders themselves have large reserves.

In the longer term, the sanctions could hurt by fostering a climate of uncertainty — something investors loathe. Some foreign investors are likely to stay away from the sanctioned companies.

Already, as the Ukraine crisis deepened, Russia’s central bank has been forced to raise interest rates several times to stabilize the currency as foreign investors sold it off; investors are expected to pull more than $100 billion out of Russia this year. The central bank last raised rates on Friday in anticipation of the latest sanctions.

Rising rates hurt the economy by making borrowing more expensive; VTB bank chairman Mikhail Zadornov told the Financial Times that the company’s retail arm cut new loans to small business by 20 percent in the first half of 2014.

Even ordinary Russians were worried.

“I have some concerns for my own savings,” said Indira Minigazimova, a resident of southern Siberia who was visiting Moscow.

It is less clear what the impact may be of another key sanction: the EU’s block on exports of technology that can be used for oil exploration and economic development. Russia relies heavily on Western expertise, for example in drilling for oil in Arctic regions.

This area has significantly more risk to Western companies — particularly BP and ExxonMobil — that have big investments in Russia. The sanctions were not expected to affect current deals and shareholdings, though it was unclear what the long-term repercussions for investments might be.

EU officials noted the prohibition would target just one-tenth of overall energy tech exports to Russia.

The reaction in Moscow’s stock markets was mixed Wednesday, as investors had sold off shares in Russian companies for the past two weeks, since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. Reports last week that the new, tougher sanctions were due had also caused markets to tumble ahead of their formal announcement Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the MICEX benchmark index rose 0.9 percent, mainly thanks to a rise in the shares of companies that were spared sanctions. Shares in VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest and one of the sanctions targets, were down 1.3 percent.

EU officials emphasized that while the latest measures last for one year, they can be annulled at any time — intended as an incentive for Russia to dial back its support for the Ukrainian rebels.

So far, the sanctions have had little effect on Russia’s actions in Ukraine. If anything, Russia appears to have stepped up its engagement in the conflict in recent weeks, with the U.S. and its allies saying Russia has built up troops along its border with Ukraine and sent heavy weapons to the separatists.

Russia, meanwhile, slapped a ban Wednesday on fruit and vegetable imports from Poland, a vocal supporter of tougher EU penalties. Moscow said the ban was for violations of health regulations and documentation procedures for some Polish produce; Poland accused Moscow of retaliation.

An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted just before the latest expansion of sanctions found 53 percent of Americans felt the U.S. had not gone far enough in sanctioning Russia, up from 41 percent who felt that way in March. A majority also supported expanding sanctions to target the Russian economy, including its energy sector, according to the survey of 1,044 Americans. The expanded sanctions drew rare cross-party support among the American public, with majorities of both Democrats and Republicans backing the move.

Indeed, President Barack Obama announced more sanctions Tuesday against three major Russian banks, and said he would block future technology sales to the oil industry.

Fewer of those polled felt the U.S. ought to provide military or financial support to countries if they are targeted by Russia.

Despite the sanctions, Obama said the West is not entering a Soviet-era standoff with Russia.

“It’s not a new Cold War,” he said.

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AP-GfK poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Baetz reported from Brussels. Julie Pace in Washington, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Danica Kirka in London and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.


Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — For nearly two months, images of immigrant children who have crossed the border without a parent, only to wind up in concrete holding cells once in United States, have tugged at heartstrings. Yet most Americans now say U.S. law should be changed so they can be sent home quickly, without a deportation hearing.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds two-thirds of Americans now say illegal immigration is a serious problem for the country, up 14 points since May and on par with concern about the issue in May 2010, when Arizona’s passage of a strict anti-immigration measure brought the issue to national prominence.

Nearly two-thirds, 62 percent, say immigration is an important issue for them personally, a figure that’s up 10 points since March. President Barack Obama’s approval rating for his handling of immigration dropped in the poll, with just 31 percent approving of his performance on the issue, down from 38 percent in May.

More than 57,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have illegally entered the country since October. Most of the children hail from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where gang violence is pervasive. Many are seeking to reunite with a parent already living in the United States.

Since initially calling the surge an “urgent humanitarian situation” in early June, Obama has pressed Central American leaders to stem the flow and has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in new money to hire more immigration judges, build more detention space and process children faster.

House Republicans on Tuesday put forward a bill costing $659 million through the final two months of the fiscal year that would send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and allow authorities to deport children more quickly.

By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose the current process for handling unaccompanied minors crossing the border, which requires that those who are not from Mexico or Canada stay in the U.S. and receive a hearing before a judge before they can be deported. Changing the law to allow all children crossing illegally to be sent back without such a hearing drew support from 51 percent of those polled.

Obama’s proposal for emergency funding, in comparison, was favored by 32 percent and opposed by 38 percent.

Santiago Moncada, a 65-year-old Austin resident who is retired from a state human resources job, said he had considered both proposals and ultimately believes the children need to be deported.

“My heart goes out to them,” said Moncada, a political independent originally from the border city of Eagle Pass. “It needs to be done only because we need to send a message saying our borders are closed. You need to apply for citizenship. You need to apply to come to the United States. You can’t just cross the border illegally.

“My problem is, ‘Who’s going to take care of them?’” Moncada said. “There comes a time when we have to say enough is enough.”

Moncada, however, does support creating a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrants who already entered the country illegally. He said many are contributing and should be given a way to become citizens.

A majority of Americans still support such a path to citizenship, though that has slipped to 51 percent from 55 percent in May. Strong opposition to that proposal grew to 25 percent in the new poll from 19 percent in May.

Patricia Thompson’s life has intersected in myriad ways with immigration over the years. She was living in South Florida when thousands of Cubans crossed the Florida Straits fleeing communism. Her son helped build part of the border fence near San Diego with the National Guard. And as an assistant professor of nursing and a college student adviser for four decades, she counseled many immigrant students.

In some cases, those students had been brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents, said Thompson, 76, who recently relocated to Florence, Alabama, from Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Those kids certainly deserve an immigration chance,” Thompson said, adding that that issue needs to be resolved before the country moves on to another. For the unaccompanied children crossing the border more recently, Thompson said they should be sent back.

“We’ve got to stop this,” said Thompson, who identified herself as a Republican, but said she thought highly of some of Democratic governors in Arkansas. “We can’t take care of the whole world.”

The poll found that most people — 53 percent — believe the U.S. does not have a moral obligation to offer asylum to people fleeing violence or political persecution. And 52 percent say the children entering the U.S. illegally who say they are fleeing gang violence in Central America should not be treated as refugees.

Eric Svien, 57, a political independent who said he leans conservative, works on the investment side of a bank near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Immigration is not his biggest concern. It ranks somewhere behind reform of the tax code, which he said should be the priority. He said the idea of a moral obligation is a “slippery slope.”

“I think we’ve probably been too open in that regard. I think at this point in time when your country’s resources get strained to the point or you just can’t be the caretaker of the world and you’ve got to draw the line somewhere,” he said. “Where that line gets drawn I hesitate to say … That might be one spot where we have to say enough is enough.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,044 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: In a polarized nation, how Democrats, Republicans see themselves and each other

By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Whether it’s the Republicans or the Democrats, America’s political parties are far from beloved. Yet most people continue to align with one or the other.

 Those who claim allegiance to the parties say they are driven by a mix of inertia, preference for one side’s policies over the other and feeling that one can depart from the party line when necessary, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Despite heated politics, few say they prefer one party out of dislike for the other.

 But affiliation doesn’t always equal admiration: One-quarter of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats say they dislike their own party.

Asked what it means when a person says he or she is a Democrat or a Republican, few mention longtime affinity. More people focus on the beliefs or attitudes held by the most visible members of the party.

Around 6 in 10 Americans say they identify with one of the nation’s two major parties. That figure rises to nearly 8 in 10 when those who say they lean toward either party are included. Yet both Democrats and Republicans inspire unfavorable views by a majority of Americans, including one-quarter who say they dislike both of them.

About a third go so far as to say they distrust both parties to handle some of the most basic functions of government: 35 percent trust neither party to handle the federal budget, and 34 percent trust neither Democrats nor Republicans to manage the federal government or address the concerns of “people like me.”

For a sizable minority, that distrust extends to many issues central to the nation’s politics, including the economy, immigration, health care and America’s image overseas. Across all 11 issues asked about in the survey, more than 1 in 5 said they lack faith in either party to handle each issue well.

So why choose a party at all?

Two reasons are cited as strong factors by about 4 in 10 in each party: They generally like the party’s policies, and they have been Republicans or Democrats for as long as they can remember. About a third of Republicans and a quarter of Democrats say that despite their association with a party, they don’t completely agree with what the party stands for. A small share in each party say their affiliation stems from a dislike of the other side.

Thirty percent of Democrats say that liking the party’s candidates is a strong part of their Democratic identity; that slips slightly to 23 percent among Republicans.

The survey also assessed views of partisans from the outside looking in, asking what it means when someone describes himself or herself as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.

As the nation’s two major parties have become increasingly polarized, perceptions of those who affiliate with them reflect that trend. To 22 percent of Americans, when people call themselves Republicans, it means they’re conservative, and 24 percent say that when people describe themselves as Democrats, it means they’re liberal. In 2003, a Pew Research Center survey asking the same question found that 17 percent associated Republicans with conservatism, and 16 percent connected Democrats and liberalism.

Beyond ideology, Americans react to self-professed Republicans by thinking they support the wealthy or businesses (21 percent), vote for Republican candidates or agree with the party’s issue positions (9 percent), or support a smaller government (7 percent). Views on Democrats are more varied, but 7 percent each say Democrats are for working people, support bigger government or more spending, or depend too heavily on government.

Few choose to describe either party using personal attacks; about 5 percent did when asked about Republicans and 9 percent did when asked about Democrats. But cross-party descriptions skew more negative and coalesce around certain traits. Nine percent of Democrats use terms including “closed-minded,” ”racist” or “self-centered” to describe Republicans, and 16 percent of Republicans choose words such as “dumb,” ”lazy” or “immoral” when asked about Democrats.

Highlighting the variation between parties, the poll even found differences in what Republicans and Democrats hear when someone tells them his or her party affiliation. Republicans seize on issues and ideology, while Democrats tend to focus on attitudes or attributes.

A Republican in the survey described the GOP by highlighting issues central to the party’s identity: “Small government, strong national defense, conservative social policies, more self-reliant people rather than people looking for Uncle Sam to support them financially.”

A typical Democrat, on the other hand, described her party’s approach to policy: “They have a social conscience and care about the underdog more than those in the upper socio-economic classes.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 16-19 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta


AP-WE tv Poll: As women earn and learn more, traditional gender roles still drive dating scene

By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Who ever said the dating game was logical?

 A new Associated Press-WE tv poll turns up all kinds of contradictions when people lay out their thoughts on dating, especially when it comes to money and gender roles.

 Seven in 10 of those surveyed say it’s unacceptable to expect a date to pay for everything. But most still say it’s a man’s job to pay for the first date.

Most say it’s OK to ask someone out because he or she seems successful. But even more say it’s unacceptable to turn down people because they haven’t had much success.

One-third think it’s OK to search for online clues about a potential first date’s success in life. But very few say daters should pay attention to each other’s finances before they are exclusive.

Overall, the traits that men and women rate as important hew to traditional gender roles.

Men and women agree that personality is the most important trait to consider when deciding whether to go on a first date with someone, and very few say money is a top consideration. Yet for men, a sense of humor outweighs intelligence, and they are more apt than women to prioritize looks. Most women place greater emphasis on a suitor’s financial situation and career ambitions.

It’s not just older people who feel that way. The differences are amplified among younger singles. About half of single men under age 45 say looks are a priority, while 70 percent of single women under 45 call career ambitions key.

There’s a clear gender gap on finances.

Men are less likely than women to say they’re comfortable dating someone who makes significantly more money than they do. Seventy-one percent of women would be comfortable in that situation, compared with 59 percent of men. Women are more wary of dating someone who earns less. Forty-three percent of men would be OK dating someone with a significantly lower salary, but just 28 percent of women would.

More broadly, uncoupled Americans are squeamish about dating those whose financial situations may not equal their own.

A shaky financial past is generally acceptable, and more say they’re comfortable dating someone who grew up in a poor family than in a wealthy one. But a questionable present inspires doubt.

Just 16 percent say they would be comfortable dating someone who is unemployed, and 23 percent say they would be comfortable dating someone with significant student loan debt.

Once dating turns to commitment and love, money is a bigger consideration for women when deciding whether to wed.

Among men who aren’t married or living with a partner, 84 percent say they’d marry someone they love regardless of whether she or he could provide financial security. Women are more cautious, with 61 percent would choose marriage for love without regard to financial standing.

Over time, Americans’ views on how women ought to balance family and career have shifted in favor of greater choice for women. But the poll also finds a more restrictive view on how men with a family ought to view their career, suggesting the rules many apply to dating continue once families are formed.

A Time/Yankelovich survey conducted in March 1978 found that about three-quarters of Americans felt women ought to put their husbands and children ahead of their careers and felt women with young children shouldn’t work outside the home unless it’s financially necessary. Now, about half hold those views.

But the AP-WE tv poll also found that half of Americans believe a man with a family has a responsibility to choose a higher-paying job over one that is more satisfying, compared with 42 percent who felt that way in 1978.

The poll was conducted in conjunction with WE tv ahead of the launch of the show “Mystery Millionaire.”

The poll was conducted May 16-19 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults, including an oversample of 310 adults who have never been married. Results for all respondents have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Sign-up success fails to translate into broad approval for Obama’s health law

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama celebrated when sign-ups for his health care law topped 8 million, far exceeding expectations after a slipshod launch. Most Americans, however, remain unimpressed.

 A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that public opinion continues to run deeply negative on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to cover the uninsured. Forty-three percent oppose the law, compared with just 28 percent in support.

 The pattern illustrates why the health care law remains a favored target for Republicans seeking a Senate majority in the midterm elections.

 The poll does have a bright spot for the administration: Those who signed up for coverage aren’t reeling from sticker shock. Most said they found premiums in line with what they expected, or even lower.

But even that was diminished by another finding: More than one-third of those who said they or someone in their household tried to enroll, were ultimately unable to do so. For the White House, it’s an uncomfortable reminder of the technical problems that paralyzed the HealthCare.gov website for weeks after it went live last fall.

The example of business owner Henry Kulik shows some of the cross-currents of public opinion.

Kulik is disabled as a result of Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition that destroys the brain’s ability to control muscle movement. His family runs several stores that sell ice cream and other summer refreshments in the Philadelphia area.

Kulik says he doesn’t believe the federal government should require people to carry health insurance, as the law does. And he can understand worries about the cost to taxpayers. On the other hand, he’s been able to slash what his family pays for health insurance by purchasing coverage through the law’s new insurance markets and by taking advantage of tax credits to lower the premiums.

Before the law, his family was paying $2,400 a month. Now it’s several hundred dollars. And Kulik says the insurance for himself, his wife, and three children is comparable to what they had before.

‘‘I think there is a lot of misinformation,’’ he says.

Obama’s health care law offers subsidized private coverage to middle-class people who have no health plan on the job, and it expands Medicaid to pick up low-income uninsured adults. But last fall’s launch of new health insurance markets was paralyzed technical problems. The debacle contributed to the departure of health secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

After Congress approved the law in 2010, a political backlash over its Medicare cuts, tax increases and new regulations helped Republicans win the House. This fall the GOP is following a similar strategy with the Senate at stake.

‘‘Republicans hold an advantage on this issue among people who feel strongly about it,’’ said Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health, who follows opinion trends on health care.

Still, just 17 percent of poll respondents said the law will be completely repealed. While that represents an increase of 5 percentage points from March, the poll found that 67 percent believe the health law will be implemented with changes, whether major or superficial.

In Walhalla, South Carolina, digital publisher Greg Freeman says he’s no big fan of the president. But now into his late 30s, Freeman thought it would be a good idea to get health insurance through the new law. It took several tries to navigate the federal enrollment website, but Freeman says he’s generally satisfied. His main complaint is that his new doctor is about an hour away, in a bigger town to the east.

‘‘I can see if some of the kinks can be worked out this could be a very positive thing in the long run,’’ Freeman said. ‘‘We should be in a position to be healthiest country in the world.’’

The poll found that sign-up success translated into higher approval for the health care law. Among those who succeeded in purchasing coverage, 51 percent back the law, compared with 30 percent among those who tried to sign up and weren’t successful.

In the tiny coastal Oregon town of Reedsport, locksmith Marvin Plunkett says he’s disappointed that public opinion about the law remains so negative. He was able to gain coverage through the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Plunkett recalled former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s discredited charge that the law would set up ‘‘death panels’’ to judge whether seniors should receive medical care. ‘‘The truth about it is pretty mundane,’’ he said. ‘‘But the lies are really exciting and emotional.’’

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 16-19, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents.

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Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com.


AP-GfK Poll: Midterm, schmidterm: Nearly half in poll say it just doesn’t matter who controls Congress

By CONNIE CASS and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Who cares which party controls Congress? Only about half of Americans. The other 46 percent, not so much, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

 Ask people whom they would rather see in charge on Capitol Hill, and Republicans finish in a dead heat with “doesn’t matter.”

Democrats fare only a little better: 37 percent would prefer their leadership, compared with 31 percent each for the GOP and whatever.

 ”I’ve never really noticed any difference in my life depending on which party is in,” said Bob Augusto, 39, an oil refinery worker in Woodstown, New Jersey. He doesn’t expect to vote in this fall’s midterm election.

Nationally, Democrats have gained a modest edge since the previous AP-GfK poll in March, but it’s not because people are liking them more. Support for Democratic leadership stayed essentially unchanged in the new poll, while Republicans lost some ground to the idea that it makes no difference who wins this November.

“I think that in general people who are in Congress and people who have enough money to run for Congress are only in it for themselves,” said Jill Narushof, 52, a mother of two and part-time math tutor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who says she’ll vote but hasn’t decided for whom. “I don’t see very many who are really interested in serving.”

Parts of the poll bode well for the GOP.

Republicans, whose party has successfully deployed its House majority to block President Barack Obama’s policies, are significantly more likely than either Democrats or independents to value control of Congress. And their base is more excited, too: Conservative Republicans are more concerned about party control than liberal Democrats are.

With Republicans making a strong push to seize control of the Senate, only a slim majority of Americans, 53 percent, say they care a good deal about which party wins.

A vast majority appear united around one thing: They’re fed up. Nearly 9 out of 10 disapprove of Congress. Two-thirds want their current representative voted out, the AP-GfK poll shows.

And most — 56 percent — disapprove of the way Obama is doing his job.

Still, history suggests most people won’t go to the polls to decide who runs Congress during the last two years of a presidency marked by remarkably bitter standoffs between the two political parties. Midterm elections usually draw about 40 percent of eligible voters.

Most incumbents won’t face a serious threat for re-election. The Republican Party is widely expected to keep control of the House. A handful of hot races are likely to determine whether Republicans take the Senate away from Obama’s party.

Because contests for the House and Senate are fought district by district and state by state, and only a third of Senate seats are involved in this year’s election, nationwide polls are of limited utility in predicting who will take the legislative majorities.

Overall, those who care a good deal about party control are evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans. More than 8 in 10 of these people say they always or nearly always vote.

People who say it doesn’t matter so much are nearly twice as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, and they skew younger. Their indifference to the national stakes doesn’t necessarily mean they will all stay home on Election Day: 4 out of 10 say they usually go to the polls.

A big majority of political independents fall into this whatever group.

Nick Crider, a Princeton, New Jersey, chemist who co-founded his own biotechnology company, says he’s lost faith in the major parties and doesn’t care which wins.

“I feel like rhetorically it makes a difference, but in actual politics and policy? Not really,” said Crider, 25, whose politics run libertarian.

“If I don’t know much about the people running in a race, I just always vote against the incumbent,” he said. “I assume change is good.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 16-19 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass


AP-GfK Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

By SETH BORENSTEIN and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time, an Associated Press-GfK poll found.

 Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

 Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine.

On some, there’s broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there’s a genetic code inside our cells. More — 15 percent — have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines.

About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory.

Those results depress and upset some of America’s top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, who vouched for the science in the statements tested, calling them settled scientific facts.

“Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts,” said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley.

The poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

And scientists know they’ve got the shakiest leg in the triangle.

To the public “most often values and beliefs trump science” when they conflict, said Alan Leshner, chief executive of the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Political values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change.

Religious values are similarly important.

Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll. Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith.

“When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can’t argue against faith,” said 2012 Nobel Prize winning biochemistry professor Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University. “It makes sense now that science would have made no headway because faith is untestable.”

But evolution, the age of the Earth and the Big Bang are all compatible with God, except to Bible literalists, said Francisco Ayala, a former priest and professor of biology, philosophy and logic at the University of California, Irvine. And Darrel Falk, a biology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University and an evangelical Christian, agreed, adding: “The story of the cosmos and the Big Bang of creation is not inconsistent with the message of Genesis 1, and there is much profound biblical scholarship to demonstrate this.”

Beyond religious belief, views on science may be tied to what we see with our own eyes. The closer an issue is to our bodies and the less complicated, the easier it is for people to believe, said John Staudenmaier, a Jesuit priest and historian of technology at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Marsha Brooks, a 59-year-old nanny who lives in Washington, D.C., said she’s certain smoking causes cancer because she saw her mother, aunts and uncles, all smokers, die of cancer. But when it comes to the universe beginning with a Big Bang or the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, she has doubts. She explained: “It could be a lack of knowledge. It seems so far” away.

Jorge Delarosa, a 39-year-old architect from Bridgewater, N.J., pointed to a warm 2012 without a winter and said, “I feel the change. There must be a reason.” But when it came to Earth’s beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because “I wasn’t there.”

Experience and faith aren’t the only things affecting people’s views on science. Duke University’s Lefkowitz sees “the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact” as a more striking factor, citing significant interest groups — political, business and religious — campaigning against scientific truths on vaccines, climate change and evolution.

Yale’s Leiserowitz agreed but noted sometimes science wins out even against well-financed and loud opposition, as with smoking.

Widespread belief that smoking causes cancer “has come about because of very public, very focused public health campaigns,” AAAS’s Leshner said. A former acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Leshner said he was encouraged by the public’s acceptance that mental illness is a brain disease, something few believed 25 years ago, before just such a campaign.

That gives Leiserowitz hope for a greater public acceptance of climate change, but he fears it may be too late to do anything about it.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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On Twitter, follow AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein at http://twitter.com/borenbears and AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta .

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Election indicators suggest GOP edge

By, JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

(AP) – The latest Associated Press-GfK poll holds bad news for President Barack Obama, but as the November elections draw closer, there are ominous signs for congressional Democrats as well.

A look at the key findings from the March poll on this year’s election and the burgeoning 2016 presidential field.

GOP GAINING GROUND

Preferences for control of Congress are tight, but Republicans have gained on Democrats since January. Thirty-six percent in last month’s poll said they would rather see the Democrats in charge of Congress and 37 percent chose Republicans.

Democrats held a narrow advantage on that question in January, when 39 percent favored the Democrats and 32 percent the Republicans.

Democrats are in the majority in the Senate while Republicans run the House.

The shift stems largely from a change among those most interested in politics.

In the new poll, registered voters who are most strongly interested in politics favored the Republicans by 14 percentage points, 51 percent to 37 percent. In January, this group was about evenly split, with 42 percent preferring Democrats and 45 percent the Republicans.

That’s not the only positive sign in the poll for the Republicans.

Favorable views of the GOP have improved, with 38 percent overall now saying they hold a favorable impression of the Party. Republicans’ positive view of their own party has increased from 57 percent in January to 72 percent now.

Even impressions of the tea party movement have shifted more positive in recent months. GOP favorability still lags behind that of the Democrats, however, with 43 percent holding a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

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CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL STAGNANT

Congressional approval is stagnant and negative, with just 16 percent saying they approve while 82 percent disapprove. Among those who have “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of interest in politics, 90 percent disapprove, including 61 percent who strongly disapprove.

Nearly 4 in 10 (39 percent) would like to see their own member of Congress re-elected, an improvement since January. Among registered voters who say they pay a great deal of attention to politics, 44 percent say they would like to see their current member re-elected, compared with 33 percent in January.

Here, there’s a glimmer of hope for Democrats. Those who consider themselves Democrats are now more likely than Republicans to say their own member of Congress ought to be re-elected. Not all Democrats live in districts represented by Democrats, of course, but it represents a shift in opinion since January.

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WHO’S IN CHARGE

With control of Congress divided between the parties, most Americans say Obama has a lot or quite a bit of control over what the federal government does, outpacing the share who say the Democrats or Republicans in Congress are in control.

Partisans tend to see the opposition as the controlling force, with Republicans more apt than Democrats to see Obama in charge, and Democrats more likely to say the Republicans have the upper hand.

Six in 10 (62 percent) of those with a great deal or quite a bit of interest in politics say Obama has a lot or quite a bit of control of what the federal government does. Just half (51 percent) of those closely attuned to politics say Democrats in Congress exert a similar influence over what the federal government does and 40 percent say the same about Republicans in Congress.

There’s little change since December in which party Americans trust more to handle major issues.

Democrats’ strong points are on handling social issues, including same-sex marriage (31 percent prefer Democrats, 17 percent the Republicans) and abortion (30 percent prefer Democrats, 22 percent Republicans). Republicans have the edge on protecting the country, 34 percent to 16 percent, a slightly wider margin than they held on the question in December.

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LOOKING TO 2016? NOT SO MUCH

The poll measured impressions of 19 potential 2016 presidential candidates, and found that a majority of those surveyed offered an opinion about just seven of them. The other 12 have quite a lot of introducing themselves to do if they are to make a run for the White House.

Most people said either they hadn’t heard of them or skipped the question.

Hillary Rodham Clinton generated the most positive response of the bunch, with 46 percent viewing the former secretary of state and first lady favorably and 39 percent unfavorably.

Among potential GOP contenders, none generated a net positive reaction from the public, with 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan faring best – 27 percent viewed him favorably, 29 percent unfavorably.

Among Republicans, majorities have favorable impressions of Ryan and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. But in a sign that the past isn’t always prologue, nearly half of Republicans say they don’t know enough to have an opinion about former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a large factor in the 2012 nomination fight.

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The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta


AP-GfK poll: Fans believe Florida will top tourney

NEW YORK (AP) — A new poll from The Associated Press and GfK says that the quarter of Americans who are following this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament believe the Gators are the overwhelming favorites to win it all.

Twenty-nine percent of those with at least some interest in March Madness think Billy Donovan’s Florida team will take home this year’s crown.

The poll also found about 5 percent of Americans are following news about the tournament extremely closely, 6 percent are following very closely and 14 percent somewhat closely.

The AP-GfK poll was conducted online March 20-24 among 1,019 adults from a probability-based panel. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Obama’s health care fails to gain support; Americans expect fixes, not repeal

AP-GfK Poll: Obama’s health care fails to gain support; Americans expect fixes, not repeal

 By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and DENNIS JUNIUS, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Public support for President Barack Obama’s health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll.

The Associated Press-GfK survey finds that 26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act. Yet even fewer — 13 percent — think it will be completely repealed. A narrow majority expects the law to be further implemented with minor changes, or as passed.

“To get something repealed that has been passed is pretty impossible,” said Gwen Sliger of Dallas. “At this point, I don’t see that happening.”

Sliger illustrates the prevailing national mood. Although a Democrat, she’s strongly opposed to Obama’s signature legislation. But she thinks “Obamacare” is here to stay.

“I like the idea that if you have a pre-existing condition you can’t be turned down, but I don’t like the idea that if you don’t have health insurance you’ll be fined,” said Sliger.

The poll was taken before Thursday’s announcement by the White House that new health insurance markets have surpassed the goal of 6 million sign-ups, so it did not register any of the potential impact of that news on public opinion. Open enrollment season began with a dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website last Oct. 1 but will end Monday on what looks to be a more positive note.

Impressions of the health care rollout while low, have improved slightly.

While only 5 percent of Americans say the launch of the insurance exchanges has gone very or extremely well, the number who think it has gone at least somewhat well has improved from 12 percent in December to 26 percent now. The exchanges offer subsidized private coverage to people without a plan on the job.

Of those who said they or someone in their household tried signing up for coverage, 59 percent said there were problems.

Repealing the health care law is the rallying cry of Republicans running to capture control of the Senate in the fall congressional elections. The Republican-led House has already voted more than 50 times to repeal, defund or scale back “Obamacare,” but has been stymied in its crusade by Democrats running the Senate.

Thursday, five Democratic senators and one independent — three facing re-election — introduced a package of changes to the law that seems calibrated to public sentiment. One of their major proposals would spare companies with fewer than 100 employees from a requirement to provide coverage to their workers. The current cutoff is 50.

The poll found that 7 in 10 Americans believe the law will be implemented with changes.

Forty-two percent think those changes will be minor, and 30 percent say they think major changes are in store.

Combining the 42 percent who see minor changes coming and 12 percent who say they think the law will be implemented as passed, a narrow majority of 54 percent see either tweaks in store, or no changes at all.

Larry Carroll, 64, a church deacon from Cameron, W.Va., says he would like to see major changes — but he doesn’t have high hopes.

“I think it’s much too big a thing for the country to be taking on,” said Cameron, who’s strongly opposed to the overhaul.

“I don’t see repeal,” he added. “The federal bureaucracy simply seems to be too strong. The federal bureaucracy is like an anaconda.”

Teresa Stevens, a factory supervisor from Jacksonville, Fla., said her two adult sons shopped for coverage on the health insurance exchanges and found it too expensive.

“There are so many different things they say about (the law) that are not true,” she said. “It’s not affordable.”

A supporter of former Democratic President Bill Clinton, Stevens said the economy has soured for working people under Obama. “Everything is so expensive, not just health care,” she said.

The poll found that much of the slippage for the health care law over the last four years has come from a drop in support, not an increase in opposition.

In April of 2010, soon after the law passed, 50 percent of Americans said they were opposed to it, while 39 percent were in favor. Ten percent were on the fence.

Now, just 26 percent say they are in favor, a drop of 13 percentage points. Forty-three percent say they are opposed, a drop of 7 percentage points since that poll four years ago. But the number who neither support nor oppose the law has tripled, to 30 percent.

The 26 percent in favor in the AP-GfK poll is not significantly different from the 27 percent registered in January and December.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.


Associated Press-GfK Poll: Ukraine crisis sinks Obama’s already-low approval rating, but sanctions draw support

By CONNIE CASS and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign policy used to stand out as a not-so-bleak spot in the public’s waning assessment of Barack Obama. Not anymore. He’s getting low marks for handling Russia’s swoop into Ukraine, and more Americans than ever disapprove of the way Obama is doing his job, according to a new AP-GfK poll.

Despite the poor performance reviews, Obama’s primary tactic so far — imposing economic sanctions on key Russians — has strong backing.

Close to 9 out of 10 Americans support sanctions as a response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the poll indicates. About half of that group says the U.S. sanctions so far are about right, while the other half wants to see them strengthened, the Associated Press-GfK poll found.

Most Democrats say the sanctions are OK, while a majority of Republicans finds them too weak.

“We’re supposed to be a country that helps smaller countries in need,” said Christopher Ashby, 29, a Republican in Albemarle, N.C., who wants a more powerful response. “Ukraine at this time is definitely in need.”

Ashby, a stay-at-home dad caring for three young daughters, said, “When I look at Obama, I see my 5-year-old daughter looking at something that just happened and saying ‘What do I do?’”

Overall disapproval of the job Obama is doing ticked up to 59 percent — a record high for his presidency — in the poll released Wednesday. His 41 percent approval rating is a sobering number for fellow Democrats running in this fall’s House and Senate elections.

Americans are now divided over which party they would rather see in control of Congress. Democrats held a slight edge over Republicans in the January AP-GfK poll.

Obama gets lowest marks for his handling of the federal budget, immigration and the economy. Support for Obama’s education policies, which had been a strong point, dipped into negative territory this month, too.

Republicans have long criticized the president as too weak in asserting American power abroad. Yet until now, foreign policy hasn’t been a drag on Obama’s second term: Americans were about as likely to endorse his actions as to disapprove.

Now he’s hit a new low on international relations — just 40 percent approval.

Majorities say they dislike Obama’s handling of the Ukraine situation (57 percent) and his interactions with Russia (54 percent).

Almost half of those polled say they support imposing tougher sanctions if Russia pushes into new regions or other countries; only 14 percent are opposed. That backs up threats from Obama and Western allies to target Russia’s economy with damaging sanctions if President Vladimir Putin goes further.

About a third of those surveyed said they oppose giving monetary aid to nations targeted by Russia. Only about 20 percent approve of financial support, while the biggest share is neutral. This week Congress is considering $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine sought by Obama.

The idea of lending any type of military support to Ukraine is unpopular, the poll says. Obama has said there are no plans to use military force to dislodge Russia from the Crimean Peninsula.

Richard Johnson, a politically independent retiree in Redmond, Wash., said the United States shouldn’t have gotten involved at all, especially since many Crimean residents favor Russia.

“They’re protesting in both directions, right?” Johnson said. “So I just feel like we’ve got enough problems here at home, why are we looking for more trouble?”

Johnson, pausing from wiring work on his do-it-yourself kitchen remodel, said he still supports Obama nevertheless.

“He’s trying to do what he believes is best,” said Johnson, 62.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ConnieCass

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-WE tv Poll: Go ahead, get your Valentine a present. Odds are, he or she will appreciate it

By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Unsure what to get your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Nothing is the wrong answer.

 An Associated Press-WE tv survey found only 17 percent of adults in committed relationships say they don’t want a gift this Friday or are skipping the holiday.

 Flowers and candy top the list of preferred gifts. But there are those who want something pricey like a car, jewelry or a vacation, and others who’d be fine with a teddy bear.

 About a third say they’d most like to have intangibles such as time together, health or happiness.

 Overall, the survey found that Cupid’s arrow hits the target for most Americans.

Two-thirds of paired-off adults feel their relationships are perfect or nearly so. A scant 3 percent think their partnerships have serious problems.

All told, 68 percent of Americans are in committed relationships of some kind, and 11 percent aren’t currently coupled but would like to be. Seventeen percent say they aren’t seeking a relationship.

In this love-struck society, Valentine’s Day holds strong appeal. About 6 in 10 say they’re excited about Feb. 14, while a third say they feel more dread about the approaching onslaught of candy, flowers and dimly lit restaurants. Apprehension isn’t limited to the lonely: Even 11 percent of those who say they are in a great relationship dread Valentine’s Day.

Contrary to stereotypes, men are just as excited as women about Valentine’s Day. In a more expected finding, men are more likely than women to say they’re hoping for sex as a gift Friday (10 percent among men, 1 percent among women). Women are more apt to wish for flowers (19 percent vs. 1 percent among men). The survey found no significant gender differences on jewelry, chocolate or teddy bears.

A notable generational divide emerged on the gift front: Americans age 65 or older are more likely to say they’d like a card or note this Valentine’s Day (17 percent of seniors want a card; just 1 percent under age 30 say that’s their gift of choice). Perhaps there’s a lesson for the young: Seniors are also most apt to say their relationships are perfect and to see time spent with their partner as a key benefit of their relationship.

The poll, conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, also explored how Americans find partners and how they prioritize pairing off vs. other life goals.

For the 11 percent of Americans currently trying to find a committed relationship, there are all kinds of tools available to help. But traditional methods — asking out someone you know or having friends set you up on a date — outpace technological ones. Forty-one percent have used an online dating service, while 19 percent have tried an app that connects them to people nearby.

Overall, about half of adults say getting married or finding a romantic partner are important life goals, while more than two-thirds consider saving for retirement, owning a home or success in a career their most important or a very important goal.

For those who’ve found love and feel their relationship could use a little work, 75 percent are willing to make a great deal of effort or more to fix those problems. Three percent say they’re unwilling to work on their issues. Most of those, 72 percent, who see any kind of problem in their relationship attribute it to both partners equally. One in 6 says blame lies mostly with his or her partner. The bigger the problem, the more apt one is to blame a partner. Among those who say their relationships have only minor problems, 9 percent blame their partner, compared with 26 percent who report bigger issues.

One in 8 accepts the blame for any relationship problems. That peaks among married men, 21 percent of whom say their relationship flaws are their own fault, compared with just 5 percent among married women who see trouble in their relationships.

And what vexes Americans’ relationships most? More than 4 in 10 of those who say there are problems in their current relationship cite issues with their sex lives, communication, romance or finances. Those in unmarried couples were generally more apt to see problems than married people, except for two areas: sex life and romance.

The poll was conducted in conjunction with WE tv ahead of the launch of the show “Marriage Boot Camp,” from Jan. 17-21 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Sochi Winter Olympics Poll: More than half Americans plan to follow Olympics

By RONALD BLUM

 NEW YORK (AP) — Just over half of Americans surveyed plan to watch or follow the Winter Olympics, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll, and one-third of respondents say they have only a little or no confidence about Russia’s ability to safeguard safety at the Sochi Games that start this week.

The likely audience for the Olympics is on the older side, with 65 percent age 50 or over planning to follow the quadrennial event compared with 47 percent among younger adults, according to the survey, conducted from Jan. 17-21.

Few are deeply confident Russia can keep the games safe: 19 percent are extremely or very confident Russia will protect the Olympics from terrorist attacks, 46 percent are somewhat confident and 33 percent just a little or not at all confident.

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Asked how they would follow the games, 86 percent who said they would follow plan to watch events on television, while 17 percent intend to view online streams. Thirty-five percent say they will read about the results online and 20 percent in newspapers.

There’s a broad age gap, with one-third under age 40 planning to follow online streams and just 9 percent aiming to follow the Olympics in newspapers. Among senior citizens, 37 percent intend to read about the games in newspapers.

With the competition held in a time zone nine hours from the U.S. Eastern Standard Time, NBC’s prime-time coverage will include replayed events, but few are concerned about spoilers. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say it won’t matter if they know the results before broadcasts, and just 20 percent of those planning to watch will actively avoid learning of the results of events they care about prior to the telecasts.

While 61 percent of whites are interested in following the Olympics, the percentage among nonwhites dips to 43 percent. Sixty-nine percent from households with incomes of $100,000 or more plan to watch, with 26 percent in that group intending to avoid spoilers.

Figure skating is by far the most popular Winter Olympic sport, with 24 percent citing it as their favorite. A mixed team event was added this year in figure skating, which has competitive events on 11 of the Olympics’ 18 days.

Ice hockey is a distant second at 6 percent, followed by Alpine skiing and snowboarding at 4 percent each. Forty-six percent of respondents say they have no preference.

Among those planning to watch or follow, the percentage identifying figure skating as their favorite rises to 35 percent. There’s a gender gap, however, with 55 percent of women who plan to watch calling figure skating their favorite, compared with 15 percent of men. Among men, ice hockey runs even with figure skating; 16 percent call it their favorite.

While 45 percent of senior citizens who plan to watch say figure skating is their favorite, that falls to 24 percent for people under 40. Snowboarding tops the list for 12 percent under age 40.

Speedskating is the favorite of 11 percent of nonwhites but just 3 percent of whites.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults, and had a sampling error margin of plus-or-minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP Director of polling Jennifer Agiesta and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


Wage hike for federal contract workers limited
By: SAM HANANEL (AP)
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage for federally contracted workers is winning praise from unions and labor activists, but it could take a year or more before any hikes take place and the impact may not be as widespread as some advocates had hoped.

Obama announced in his State of the Union address Tuesday that he will sign an executive order setting the minimum wage for workers covered by new federal contracts at $10.10 an hour, a hefty increase over the current federal minimum of $7.25.

“I think it’s a huge step forward in that every action headed in the direction of lifting wages puts pressure on Congress to act,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to help federally contracted workers and fast-food employees organize protests and strikes to demand higher wages.

But the increase is only expected to cover about 10 percent of the 2.2 million federal contract workers overall, since most of those employees already make more than $10.10. It won’t take effect until 2015 at the earliest and doesn’t affect existing federal contracts, only new ones.

Another wrinkle: The order won’t affect contract renewals unless other terms of the agreement change, such as the type of work or number of employees needed, according to White House officials.

That caveat is raising concerns for Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who has spent months urging Obama to increase wages for contractors. While Ellison called the announcement “a great first step,” he said he wants to make sure it’s implemented the right way.

“If you renew a contract, we expect everyone to make $10.10,” Ellison said.

Ellison said White House officials have estimated that about 200,000 low-wage workers would be affected by the order, including food service workers in federal buildings, security guards, cleaners and groundskeepers.

The White House has not said whether the wage increase will be indexed to go up as inflation rises, but that is also something Ellison would like to see once the executive order is drafted.

Obama hopes his order will pressure Congress “to get on board” and pass legislation increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 for all employees.

The move is sure to add to the growing debate about whether workers in low-wage industries like retail and fast-food should be paid more. And it is winning wide praise from Democratic lawmakers who want to pass a wage increase this year.

Obama’s announcement was a victory for labor unions who have stepped up public pressure on Obama to help raise wages. Government contract workers — with the backing of unions and other worker advocacy groups — have held protests seven times since last May to protest low pay for those working at landmark government buildings, including the Pentagon, the Smithsonian museums and Union Station. Those protesters have specifically called on Obama to raise their wages through an executive order.

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said raising the minimum wage would place a new burden on employers and hinder job creation.

“It’s simple math — if the cost of hiring goes up, hiring goes down,” Shay said.

Over at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, senior vice president Randy Johnson said the order appears to be very limited, but he’s waiting to see the fine print. Johnson also questioned whether Obama has legal authority to issue an order that conflicts with current federal minimum wage legislation passed by Congress.

A recent survey by the National Employment Law Project found that 77 percent of government contract employees who work in food service, retail or janitorial service earn less than $10 per hour. About 4 in 10 of those workers depend on public assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid, the study by the worker advocacy group found.

The latest Associated Press-GfK poll found that 55 percent of Americans back an increase in the minimum wage, while 21 percent oppose it and 23 percent are neutral. Most, 52 percent, say an increase in the minimum wage would do more to help than hurt the economy, while 27 percent feel it would do more harm than good. One in 5 thinks it wouldn’t have much impact on the economy.

Among Democrats, 77 percent favor an increase and 10 percent oppose it. Among Republicans, only 32 percent support an increase, 39 percent are opposed and 29 percent are neutral. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said Obama’s order could have a ripple effect on private employers in some industries and may help other workers who already earn slightly more than $10.10 get a wage boost as well. That has happened in past years when Congress raised the minimum wage, she said.

“Any concrete step that moves in the direction of raising wages for any workers contributes positively to the debate,” Owens said.

Unions representing federal workers applauded Obama’s announcement but complained that the president should also be supporting legislation to increase wages for the government’s own employees who earn less than $10.10 an hour.

“If the president is to have any credibility in talking about living wages, he needs to get his own house in order first and do everything in his power to establish $10.10 as the minimum wage for all federal hourly workers,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

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Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP

 


AP-GfK Poll: AP-GfK poll: Deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program holds support _ even if it might not work

By LARA JAKES and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — A majority of Americans support an agreement by the U.S. and five other world powers to limit Iran’s disputed nuclear program, but fewer believe it will keep the Islamic republic from building a nuclear bomb.

 A new Associated Press-GfK poll gave President Barack Obama lower marks for his dealings with Iran.

 The five-day survey, conducted Jan. 17-21, was ongoing as the interim agreement went into effect. It calls for Iran to cap uranium enrichment at a level far below what’s necessary to build a nuclear weapon. In exchange, world powers agreed to ease international sanctions by an estimated $7 billion to give some short-term relief to Iran’s crippled economy.

The temporary compromise is set to expire in July, giving negotiators six months to work on a plan to permanently prevent Iran’s nuclear program from becoming a threat.

 The poll indicated that 60 percent of American adults approve of the six-month agreement.

 But fewer than half — 47 percent — believe it might work.

 ”From a diplomatic standpoint, it would be great to be able to negotiate and come up with a solution that would eliminate the chance for nuclear weapons for Iran,” respondent Lance Hughey, 40, a lawyer from LaCrosse, Wis., said Monday.

 However, “Iran is a difficult country to trust,” said Hughey, who identified himself as an independent voter with slightly Republican leanings. “And the leadership that we see out of D.C., the way things have been conducted with Syria … I don’t believe (the president) has the leadership skills to deal with Iran.”

 The poll concluded that overall, 42 percent approve of how Obama handles Iran — about the same as 44 percent in December. Fewer strongly approve of his performance, 25 percent now compared with 30 percent in December.

 Obama is the first U.S. president to talk directly with an Iranian leader since 1979, when the Iranian Revolution toppled the pro-U.S. shah and brought Islamic militants to power. Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke briefly by phone in late September, and opened the way for meetings and negotiations between U.S. and Iranian diplomats.

 But the Obama administration has come under fire from lawmakers who say the tough trade and financial sanctions should not be eased until Iran agrees to all international demands, including settling once and for all any concerns that it may be trying to produce nuclear weapons.

 Iran has denied it is seeking a bomb and says it is pursuing nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes.

 The next round of negotiations with Iran is expected to be held in New York next month. The U.S. and its negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — will be seeking a long-term agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program

 The AP-GfK Poll was conducted using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for all respondents. Those respondents who did not have Internet access before joining the panel were provided it for free.

 AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

 Online: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

 

Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP and Jennifer Agiesta at: https://twitter.com/JennAgiesta


AP-GfK poll: Americans value privacy over security
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans are unimpressed with President Barack Obama’s efforts to restore trust in government in the wake of disclosures about secret surveillance programs that swept up the phone records of hundreds of millions in the United States.

And Americans are increasingly placing personal privacy ahead of being kept safe from terrorists, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. More than 60 percent of respondents said they value privacy over anti-terror protections. That’s up slightly from 58 percent in a similar poll in August conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Obama has been fighting to regain public trust after a former National Security Agency analyst last year revealed some of the intelligence community’s most well-kept secrets about spying on Americans. The U.S. public, Congress and allies overseas were shocked to learn the extent of the NSA’s post-9/11 surveillance, including the dragnet collection and storage of Americans’ phone records. Soon after Edward Snowden’s disclosure in June, Obama promised to review the system that has changed rapidly as technology improved.

Last week the president announced he was placing new limits on the way the intelligence community accesses phone records from hundreds of millions of Americans. He said he was moving toward eventually stripping the massive data collection from the government’s hands. And he called for a panel of advocates to represent privacy and civil liberty concerns before the secret court that oversees the surveillance programs.

But the poll found that was not enough to allay most Americans’ concerns. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they disapprove of the way Obama is handling intelligence surveillance policies. And 61 percent said they prioritize protecting Americans’ rights and freedoms over making sure Americans are safe from terrorists.

Only 34 percent support Obama’s plan to create a panel of outside attorneys to offer an opposing argument to the government before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And just 17 percent of those polled support moving the data the government collects about telephone calls outside of government hands.

In an effort to be more transparent, the intelligence community has declassified thousands of pages of documents related to the secret programs, including stinging rebukes from judges about the NSA’s violation of some of the program’s rules.

But Americans are split on whether the government should publicly justify its surveillance programs to prove they don’t violate civil rights. Some 49 percent said keeping the details of the programs secret is more important than justifying their legality. Most people under 30 said it’s more important to disclose the details of the programs, while most Americans age 65 or over said the U.S. intelligence gathering details should remain secret.

Most Americans said Snowden was wrong to disclose these classified programs. Younger Americans are more apt to support what Snowden, 30, did. Snowden fled the country before his revelations became public. He is currently living in Russia, granted temporary asylum from the criminal charges he faces in the United States for disseminating classified information.

A government review panel warned last week that the NSA’s daily collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal and recommended that Obama abandon the program and destroy the hundreds of millions of phone records it has already collected. The recommendations by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board go further than Obama is willing to accept and increase pressure on Congress to make changes.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 17-21 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for all respondents. Those respondents who did not have Internet access before joining the panel were provided it for free.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK poll: Breaches not changing people’s habits
By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO
 

NEW YORK (AP) — American shoppers say they are very concerned about the safety of their personal information following a massive security breach at Target, but many aren’t taking steps to ensure their data is more secure, says a new Associated Press–GfK Poll.

The poll finds a striking contradiction: Americans say they fear becoming victims of theft after the breach that compromised 40 million credit and debit cards and personal information of up to 70 million customers. Yet they are apathetic to try to protect their data.

In the survey, nearly half of Americans say they are extremely concerned about their personal data when shopping in stores since the breach. Fifty-eight percent say they have deep worries when spending online, while 62 percent are very concerned when they buy on their mobile phones.

But just 37 percent have tried to use cash for purchases rather than pay with plastic in response to data thefts like the one at Target, while only 41 percent have checked their credit reports. And even fewer have changed their online passwords at retailers’ websites, requested new credit or debit card numbers from their bank or signed up for a credit monitoring service.

The poll offers insight into the effects big data breaches can have on consumer behavior. There have been worries that shoppers would dramatically change their habits since December, when Target announced the breach that could wind up being the largest in U.S. history. Weeks later, those concerns were elevated when luxury retailer Neiman Marcus disclosed that it too was the victim of a breach that may have compromised 1.1 million debit and credit cards.

But security experts say the results show that Americans have come to expect that security theft is a possibility when they use their credit or debit cards or provide retailers with phone numbers, emails and other personal information.

“They … just chalk it up to … ‘It’s part of life,’” says Cameron Camp, security researcher at global security firm ESET who believes people don’t think they will be liable for fraudulent charges.

Experts also say the results show another expectation Americans have: While nearly 4 out of 10 say they have been victimized by personal data theft, most expect credit card companies, banks or retailers to take responsibility when that happens.

About 38 percent report that they think they have either had someone make unauthorized purchases using their credit or debit cards without it having been physically stolen or that someone had used their personal information to apply for a fraudulent line of credit, the poll says. And just over a third of Americans think their personal information was compromised in the breach at Target.

But the survey shows that just 37 percent say consumers bear most of the responsibility for keeping their data safe, while 88 percent place the burden on the retailers who are collecting it. Six in 10 say the banks that provide credit or debit cards or the credit bureaus should bear most of the responsibility.

Andrea Davis doesn’t believe she was affected by the Target breach, but she recently found unauthorized charges on her American Express credit card. Still, she hasn’t taken steps to make her data more secure because she says she feels protected when she uses her Amex card. In fact, American Express immediately took off the charges after she notified the company.

“You feel discouraged, but in the end, everyone gets their money,” says Davis, who lives in Marina del Rey, Calif. “It is what it is.”

The sentiment was different among Americans who’ve been victims of personal data theft. In that group, 52 percent have checked their credit report, while 41 percent have tried to use more cash. Twenty-eight percent have signed up for a credit monitoring service.

Eve Sims signed up for a credit card monitoring service for a monthly fee of $14 about five years ago after she found fraudulent charges from Nigeria on her credit card. “It’s worth it,” she says.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 17 through Tuesday and involved interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

The poll used KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel that is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later, completed this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have Internet access were provided with access at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Negative views of health rollout ease as more sign up; consumers still skeptical

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Memo to the White House: The website may be fixed, but President Barack Obama’s new health insurance markets have yet to win over most consumers.

Negative perceptions of the health care rollout have eased, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds. But overall, two-thirds of Americans say things still aren’t going well.

Of those who’ve tried to sign up, or who live with someone who has, 71 percent have encountered problems. But the share reporting success jumped to 40 percent from a meager 24 percent in December.

“Everything is not perfect; it takes time to work out the glitches,” said Carol Lyles, a homecare provider from Los Angeles who was able to get coverage as a result of the law. “If done right, I believe it will provide the services that are needed.

“The poll comes with about 60 days left in open enrollment season. The administration is playing catch-up to meet its goal of signing up 7 million people in new insurance exchanges that offer subsidized private coverage to middle-class households. So far, the markets have attracted an older crowd that tends to be more costly to cover. Younger people in the coveted 18-34 age group are still mainly on the sidelines.

While the poll did not find a turnaround for “Obamacare,” the trend offers some comfort for supporters of the health care law.

In December, 76 percent of adults had said the opening of the new markets was not going well. Such negative perceptions have now fallen 10 points to 66 percent.

Still, rave reviews remain rare.

Only 4 percent said things were going extremely or very well, while another 17 percent said things were going somewhat well.

Compare that to 38 percent who said the rollout had gone not at all well. Another 28 percent said things were not going too well. Add those together and it makes up two-thirds of the public.

“People were locked out of the system,” said Karyle Knowles, a restaurant server from San Antonio. “They weren’t able to access what they should have, which only added to the mayhem.

“The White House had hoped to bring the ease of online shopping to the daunting process of buying health insurance. Instead, the federal website serving 26 states froze up when it was launched Oct. 1. Some of the 14 states running their own sites also encountered problems. It took the better part of two months to straighten out the issues with the federal exchange.

The administration reported Friday that 3 million people have now signed up for private coverage through federal and state markets, and another 6.3 million have been deemed eligible for Medicaid coverage. It’s not clear how many of those were previously uninsured.

According to the poll, many website users have had a frustrating experience. Among those who’ve tried to sign up, just 8 percent say it worked well, 29 percent somewhat well, 53 percent not well.

The public’s take on the law itself is stable, with 27 percent saying they back it, 42 percent opposed and 30 percent neutral. Those figures are unchanged since December.

People who have tried to sign up are more positive than the overall public — 46 percent say they back the law, 31 percent oppose it.But among the uninsured generally, there’s a more even divide, with 30 percent saying they support the law while 33 percent oppose it.

The major elements of the health care law took effect with the new year. Virtually all Americans are now required to get covered or risk fines. Insurers can no longer turn away people with health problems. And the exchanges are open for business.

Enrollment in the Medicaid safety-net program is also rising. That’s partly because of a program expansion accepted by about half the states and partly as a consequence of previously eligible but unenrolled people now forced to comply with the law’s individual coverage mandate. Last week, Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said his state plans to become the 26th to accept the expansion.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 17-21 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost.

AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: 49 percent of Americans pro football fans, 1-3 don’t want to attend Super Bowl

By DENNIS JUNIUS and RALPH D. RUSSO, Associated Press

 About half of Americans say they are fans of pro football, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, and nearly a third of those fans say they would not consider attending a Super Bowl _ even though few have any idea how much it costs.

 The NFL is still the most popular sports league in the United States, drawing the highest TV ratings by far. Its revenues climbed above $9 billion last year and next week’s Super Bowl between Seattle and Denver in New Jersey will be the most watched television program of the year.

 Last year, 56 percent of people polled said they were NFL fans, and that number dropped slightly to 49 percent this year. Even among those who said they were NFL fans, 31 percent said they had no interest in attending a Super Bowl, even if they could afford it.

Fans have complained about high ticket prices, with very few available to the general public at face value, and most fans having to go through resellers to get into the game.

Fans had a wide-range of guesses as to what a face value Super Bowl ticket costs, though 41 percent chose an amount between $251 and $500. The median estimate was $500. The median estimate from fans on what it would cost to buy a Super Bowl ticket on the secondary market rose to $1,000.

Ticket prices for the Super Bowl range from $500 to $2,600, though only 1,000 tickets are available for $500. Forbes reported Saturday that the average price for a ticket to next week’s game from a ticket broker or secondary seller such as TiqIQ was $2,505, according to SeatGeek, which tracks prices. Prices change daily.

Nearly half of fans (48 percent) would be willing to pay $250 or less for a Super Bowl ticket if their team was playing in the game and 8 percent said they wouldn’t be willing to pay anything to attend the game, even if their team was playing. Overall, the median price fans say they’d pay to attend the Super Bowl to see their team play is $200.

One percent of fans say they’d pay $10,000 to see their team play, the highest response received in the poll.

Fans were about evenly split on expansion of the playoffs. Twenty-six percent favor allowing more teams into the playoffs, an idea being considered by the NFL. Twenty-eight percent oppose it and 45 percent are neither in favor nor opposed.

A broad majority of adults (83 percent) say the Washington Redskins should not change their nickname. Among football fans, 87 percent say keep the name.

Since the last AP-GfK poll on the topic in April 2013, several prominent figures, notably President Barack Obama, have said it’s time for the team to change. But public opinion is still about the same.

College graduates are more likely to say Washington should change its name now than they were in April. Back then, 14 percent of college graduates said it was time for a change, now 23 percent say it should change. Men are also now slightly more apt to say the team should change, 16 percent say so in the new poll, compared with 9 percent in April. Among women, opinions have held steady with 13 percent in favor of a change

The Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots tied for most responses when fans were asked what is their favorite team. Each received seven percent of the responses. The Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers were each the favorite team of 6 percent of the fans polled.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 17-21 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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Online: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Americans take stock of Obama at 5-year mark and find him nice guy, so-so president

By NANCY BENAC and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Nice guy, so-so president.

 Taking stock of President Barack Obama at the five-year mark in his term, less than a third of Americans consider him to be an above-average chief executive. Nearly twice as many find him likable.

 A new Associated Press-GfK Poll finds the president’s personal image to be on the rebound after taking a hit during the government shutdown late last year, with 58 percent now sizing him up as very or somewhat likable. That’s up 9 percentage points from October, just after the shutdown.

 Yet as Obama prepares to stand before Americans for his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, people are largely pessimistic about the country’s direction, down on the condition of the economy and doubtful it will bounce back anytime soon. Unemployment? Seventy percent think it will go higher or stay the same.

Obama “wasn’t a total disappointment,” allows Joshua Parker, a 37-year-old small businessman in Smyrna, Tenn. “He didn’t put us into a Great Depression.”

But Parker, a self-described political independent and conservative, suspects that someone who understood the economy better could have done more.

“He would probably be a guy I would like to hang out with if he wasn’t president,” says Parker. “But I like a lot of people who are not qualified to be president.”

Across the country, Democrat Sabrina Carag, a 58-year-old retired accountant in Pleasanton, Calif., gives the president higher marks on both performance and personality.

If things aren’t great in the country, this former Republican reasons, it’s the fault of her old party and the Republicans in Congress.

“They block him every step of the way,” says Carag. “I don’t think it’s fair for them to say he’s been a bad president. How can you do anything if your hands are tied?”

From Huntsville, Texas, 51-year-old Wes Brummett thinks the economy will improve eventually — but it may be up to his grandchildren to do it.

Obama, this Democrat says, seems like an all-right guy and a good dad, but “he needs to show more leadership.”

“People are getting disheartened,” says Brummett, a self-employed computer systems administrator.

On the cusp of his sixth year in office, Obama is far removed from those heady days before his first inauguration, when two-thirds of Americans predicted he’d be an outstanding or above-average president.

Now, 31 percent think he’s been outstanding or above average, a quarter size him up as average, and 42 percent describe his presidency as below average or poor.

The ranks of those who believe he’s been outstanding or above average have edged down 6 points since just after Obama’s re-election in November 2012, reflecting slippage in how he’s viewed by Democrats, particularly liberals.

And while Obama’s likability numbers have recovered somewhat, doubts about his decisiveness and honesty persist. More than half of Americans wouldn’t describe him as decisive or honest. Fifty-two percent don’t find him particularly inspiring.

The president’s overall approval rating has remained fairly stable, with 45 percent approving and 53 percent saying they don’t. He’s picked up a little support, however, on his handling of unemployment and the federal government. People still view him negatively on both issues, but the share that disapproves has dropped 7 percentage points on each issue since October, largely a reflection of greater support among independents.

Congress continues to take its own outsized lumps in the polls as well. Just 14 percent of Americans approve of the way legislators are handling the job — up from a low of 5 percent after the government shutdown, but still nothing to celebrate. More than 9 in 10 Republicans say they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. It’s the first time that’s happened in AP-GfK polling since Republicans took control of the House after the 2010 elections.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 17-21, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for all respondents.

Survey respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed for this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac

Follow Jennifer Agiesta at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta

 


AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve Poll: Americans hopeful for a better 2014 as they recall important, memorable moments of 2013
 By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press
 
Ready to ring in the new year, Americans look ahead with optimism, according to a new AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve poll. Their ratings of the year gone by? Less than glowing.
 
What the public thought of 2013:GOOD YEAR OR GOOD RIDDANCE?On the whole, Americans rate their own experience in 2013 more positively than negatively, but when asked to assess the year for the United States or the world at large, things turn sour.

—All told, 32 percent say 2013 was a better year for them than 2012, while 20 percent say it was worse and 46 percent say the two years were really about the same. Young people were more apt to see improvement: 40 percent of people under age 30 called 2013 a better year than 2012, compared with 25 percent of people age 65 or older.

—The public splits evenly on how the year turned out for the country, 25 percent saying it was better than 2012, 25 percent saying it was worse. As with most questions about the state of affairs in the U.S. these days, there’s a sharp partisan divide. Democrats are more apt to say the U.S. turned out better in 2013 than 2012 (37 percent) than are Republicans (17 percent).

—Thinking about the world at large, 30 percent say 2013 was worse than 2012, while just 20 percent say it was better.

But the outlook for the new year is positive: 49 percent think their own fortunes will improve in 2014, 14 percent are anticipating the new year to be a downgrade from the old. Thirty-four percent say they don’t expect much to change.

WHERE’S THE PARTY?

Most Americans — 54 percent — say they’ll be ringing in the new year at home, while 1 in 5 are heading to a friend’s or family member’s house. Only 8 percent say they’ll go to a bar, restaurant or other organized event.

—Younger Americans are least apt to spend the holiday at home: 39 percent of those under age 30 will celebrate at home, 33 percent at someone else’s home, 13 percent at a bar or other venue.

—Regardless of their own time zone, nearly 6 in 10 say they’ll watch at least some of the celebration from New York City’s Times Square.

COUNTDOWN COMPANIONS

Wherever they’re spending the holiday, most Americans prefer the company of family. Asked with whom they want to be when the clock strikes midnight, 83 percent name a family member.

—On a holiday often sealed with a kiss, nearly 4 in 10 say they most want to be next to their spouse, and 13 percent cite a significant other or romantic interest as a preferred companion. Parents like to be with their children, more than the children like to be with their parents.

—Less conventional choices: 2 percent cite their pets, 3 percent God, Jesus or their religious congregation, and less than 1 percent said they wanted to ring it in with their co-workers.

—Of course, some opt out altogether: 18 percent say they’re not planning to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, and 9 percent say there’s no one with whom they’d like to party, preferring instead their pillow, TiVo or their own thoughts.

WHAT MATTERED IN NEWS

The implementation of the health care law topped the list of the most important news stories of 2013, with 26 percent citing it. In an Associated Press survey of news directors and editors, 45 of 144 journalists surveyed called the health care rollout their top story.

In the AP-Times Square poll, the death of Nelson Mandela occurred as the poll was underway. It rose quickly, with 8 percent naming it as the most important news of the year, matching the share citing the federal government’s budget difficulties or shutdown.

The budget fight, which led to a partial shutdown of the federal government in October, was rated extremely or very important by 60 percent of Americans, and prompted rare bipartisan agreement. About two-thirds in each major party, 65 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats, rated it highly important.

A majority said the Boston Marathon bombings were extremely or very important, and 47 percent considered the national debate over gun laws that important.

POP CULTURE: MOSTLY FORGETTABLE MOMENTS

Miley Cyrus’s MTV Video Music Awards performance. The launch of “Lean In.” Apologies from Paula Deen and Lance Armstrong. Walter White’s exit and the entrance of the Netflix series “House of Cards.” What do they all have in common? More Americans say these pop culture moments were more forgettable than memorable.

Just one pop culture moment was deemed more memorable than forgettable: The birth of Prince George to Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate.

—Among men, 64 percent called the debate on work-life balance sparked by the book “Lean In” and other writings forgettable. About half of women agreed.

—About 1 in 5 younger Americans said the launch of original programming through streaming services like Netflix or Hulu was a memorable moment, about doubling the share among those age 50 and up.

—Residents of the West were more likely than others to consider memorable the San Francisco “Batkid” (31 percent) or the final season of the series “Breaking Bad” (19 percent).

The AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve Poll was conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications from Dec. 5-9 and involved online interviews with 1,367 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, a probability-based Internet panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly, using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta


AP-GfK Poll: Obama foreign affairs ratings mostly top his domestic ones, but worries remain

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press

 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s approval ratings for handling foreign policy issues generally top his ratings for most domestic issues, including the economy and health care, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. But the poll also suggests a majority of Americans want the president to pull troops out of Afghanistan faster than he’s doing, and many are skeptical about a tentative nuclear deal with Iran.

 The poll found that 57 percent now say going to war in Afghanistan after the 2001 terror attacks was probably the “wrong thing to do.” And 53 percent say the pace of the planned withdrawal is too slow, 34 percent said the pace was just about right and 10 percent said it was too fast. All combat troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014.

 Meanwhile, six in 10 Americans approve of the preliminary deal between Iran and six global powers to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But that support is soft and many doubt it will lead to concrete results.

Even though he garners more disapproval than approval on the handling of Afghanistan and Iran, Obama generally gets better ratings on foreign policy than on domestic issues.

Nearly half (49 percent) approve of his handling of U.S. relations with other countries while 50 percent disapprove. In contrast, just 40 percent approve of his handling of the economy, while 59 percent disapprove. And on health care, the approval rating stands at 39 percent, with 61 percent disapproving. His overall job approval is at 42 percent, with 58 disapproving.

The slightly higher ratings on foreign policy generally make sense, suggested Philip Salathe, 70, of Indianapolis, who participated in the poll.

Salathe said Obama in 2008 ran against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who during the campaign joked about dropping bombs on Iran. “I figure we could fix the economy if it gets ruined and we can repeal any bad laws that get passed,” Salathe said, but a military confrontation with Iran or other foreign policy crisis could have more disastrous consequences.

Salathe approves of the job Obama is doing overall but still thinks things are headed in the wrong direction. “We’re not doing anything about the major problems facing humanity. Basically, we have a number of disparate goals that are at odds with each other,” such as protecting the environment while promoting growth and urban development. He said Obama is the first Democrat he’s voted for as president. He said he tends to favor Republicans.

Just 16 percent of those polled said they expected the situation in Afghanistan to “get better” over the next year; 32 percent said they expected it to “get worse” while about half said they expected the situation to “stay about the same.”

Jennifer Reese, 28, of Burnsville, Minn., considers herself a Democrat and says she voted for Obama. But she questions whether he’s the cause for the economy getting better.

“I think the economy is getting better, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because of what Obama’s doing,” she said. “That’s the way things work. When things go down so far, then they’re going to go back up.”

She said she also believes both parties could do an equally good job protecting the country and that the pace of allied troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is “about right.” She favors a continued presence of allied troops in the country to train and assist Afghan troops. “My family was in the military. My father was over there for a while and he says they’re doing good things.”

As for negotiations with Iran on curbing its nuclear program, Reese says she is pleased Iran is at the bargaining table. “Let’s negotiate this, see what we can do,” she said.

The poll showed Americans broadly approve of a tentative deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Fifty-nine percent approved, 38 percent disapproved.

But that support was tentative, with more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) also saying it’s unlikely the agreement will keep Iran from seeking to build its own nuclear weapon. Just 11 percent think that outcome is extremely or very likely.

Mark Dabney, 54, of Cartersville, Ga., who describes himself as a political independent who supports the tea party movement, disapproves of Obama’s performance on both domestic and foreign policy fronts.

As for Iraq and Afghanistan, “I just believe that we shouldn’t go meddling in other countries’ internal affairs,” he said.

The AP-GfK poll was conducted Dec. 5-9 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. For results based on all 1,367 adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

KnowledgePanel is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later, completed this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have Internet access were provided with access at no cost.

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Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

Online:

AP-GfK poll: http://www.ap.gfkpoll.com

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Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum


AP-GfK Poll: Most Americans see stock market either flat or lower by end of 2014

By STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans aren’t expecting another bang-up year for the stock market, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Of the people polled, 40 percent think the market will stabilize where it is now by the end of 2014, with 39 percent predicting that it will drop, but not crash. Only 14 percent believe the market will rise and 5 percent think it will crash.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has surged 24.5 percent to 1,775 in 2013, putting it on track for its best year in a decade.

The rally has been fueled by higher corporate earnings, a slow but steady recovery in the U.S. economy and stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

Perhaps because of the slow recovery, only about half of the general public noted the market’s strong performance, according to the poll. Investors were more aware of the booming market, however, as 73 percent say it improved.

William Leyser, 74, a retired machinist from Las Vegas, thinks the stock market may fall by as much as 10 percent next year. He has taken some of his money out of stocks this year and put it into bonds.

“I’m concerned there is going to be a big correction here,” says Leyser, who invests in mutual funds. “When it gets high, it always goes down a little bit.”

The poll also shows that individuals are less optimistic about the outlook for the stock market than many investment professionals.

While few market strategists expect stocks to keep climbing at the same pace, many see it extending its gains at a slower rate. Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts the S&P 500 index will end next year at 2,000, about 13 percent higher than its current level. Wells Fargo Advisors forecasts the index will climb as high as 1,900, a gain of about 7 percent.

Stocks have rallied since bottoming out after the financial crisis and the start of the Great Recession, lifting the S&P 500 index 162 percent from its low in March 2009. Despite those steady returns, the poll suggests that Americans are still nervous about buying and holding stocks.

Of those polled, 71 percent consider investing in the stock market to be “generally risky,” compared with 27 percent who think of the market as “generally safe.”

The perception of stocks as a risky investment has lessened since the spring, when 75 percent of respondents said it was “generally risky” and 18 percent said it was “generally safe.”

Still, with interest rates on savings accounts low, some individual investors recognize the need to take on more risk.

“If you want to see some growth in your portfolio you have to go into equities,” says Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky, 64, a former IT worker who lives in Portsmouth, Va.

Overall, 20 percent of investors say they plan to invest more heavily in the market in the coming year, 22 percent will pull back, and 57 percent plan to invest at about the same level as in 2013.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 5-9, 2013, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. For results based on all 1,367 adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

KnowledgePanel is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later, completed this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have Internet access were provided with access at no cost to them.

 

 

AP-GfK poll: Health law seen as eroding coverage
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and JENNIFER AGIESTA Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans who already have health insurance are blaming President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul for their rising premiums and deductibles, and overall 3 in 4 say the rollout of coverage for the uninsured has gone poorly.

 

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that health care remains politically charged going into next year’s congressional elections. Keeping the refurbished HealthCare.gov website running smoothly is just one of Obama’s challenges, maybe not the biggest.

The poll found a striking level of unease about the law among people who have health insurance and aren’t looking for government help. Those are the 85 percent of Americans who the White House says don’t have to be worried about the president’s historic push to expand coverage for the uninsured.

In the survey, nearly half of those with job-based or other private coverage say their policies will be changing next year — mostly for the worse. Nearly 4 in 5 (77 percent) blame the changes on the Affordable Care Act, even though the trend toward leaner coverage predates the law’s passage.

Sixty-nine percent say their premiums will be going up, while 59 percent say annual deductibles or copayments are increasing.

Only 21 percent of those with private coverage said their plan is expanding to cover more types of medical care, though coverage of preventive care at no charge to the patient has been required by the law for the past couple of years.

Fourteen percent said coverage for spouses is being restricted or eliminated, and 11 percent said their plan is being discontinued.

“Rightly or wrongly, people with private insurance looking at next year are really worried about what is going to happen,” said Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who tracks public opinion on health care issues. “The website is not the whole story.”

Employers trying to control their health insurance bills have been shifting costs to workers for years, but now those changes are blamed increasingly on “Obamacare” instead of the economy or insurance companies.

Political leanings seemed to affect perceptions of eroding coverage, with larger majorities of Republicans and independents saying their coverage will be affected.

The White House had hoped that the Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment season for the uninsured would become a teaching moment, a showcase of the president’s philosophy that government can help smooth out the rough edges of life in the modern economy for working people.

Instead the dysfunctional website became a parable for Republicans and others skeptical of government.

At the same time, a cresting wave of cancellation notices hit millions who buy their policy directly from an insurer. That undercut one of Obama’s central promises — that you can keep the coverage you have if you like it. The White House never clearly communicated the many caveats to that promise.

Disapproval of Obama’s handling of health care topped 60 percent in the poll.

With the website working better and enrollments picking up, Democrats are hoping negative impressions will quickly fade in the rearview mirror. The poll found that Democrats still have an edge over Republicans, by 32 percent to 22 percent, when it comes to whom the public trusts to handle health care.

But other potential bumps are just ahead for Obama’s law.

It’s unclear whether everyone who wants and needs coverage by Jan. 1 will be able to get it through the new online insurance markets. Some people who have to switch plans because their policies were cancelled may find that their new insurance covers different drugs, or that they have to look for other doctors.

In the poll, taken just after the revamped federal website was unveiled, 11 percent of Americans said they or someone in their household had tried to sign up for health insurance in the new marketplaces.

Sixty-two percent of those said they or the person in their household ran into problems. About one-fourth of all who tried managed to enroll. Half said they were not able to buy insurance, and the remaining quarter said they weren’t sure.

Phyllis Dessel, 63, of Reading, Pa., believes she is finally enrolled after 50 attempts online. The retired social worker, a political independent, currently has her own private insurance.

When Dessel described her experience, she jokingly asked, “Do you mind if I cry?”

Thanks to tax credits available under the law, she was able to save about $100 a month on her coverage. But she had to switch carriers because a plan with her current insurer cost more than she was willing to pay. She hasn’t gotten an invoice yet from her new insurance company.

The premiums were “not at all” what she expected, said Dessel. “They were much, much higher.”

A supporter of Obama’s overhaul, she believes changes are needed to make the coverage more affordable.

“I think with a lot of amendments or updates, it could be very, very helpful and beneficial,” said Dessel. “I know a lot of people who don’t have insurance. My hairdresser, my plumber don’t have insurance and they’re not going to get it if it’s not affordable.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 5-9 and involved online interviews with 1,367 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, a probability-based Internet panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: Frequent fliers hate idea of in-flight calls; government regulators prepare to debate issue

By Scott Mayerowitz, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — As federal regulators consider removing a decades-old prohibition on making phone calls on planes, a majority of Americans who fly oppose such a change, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

The Federal Communications Commission will officially start the debate Thursday, holding the first of several meetings to review the agency’s 22-year-old ban. New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has called the current rules “outdated and restrictive.”

Technology has advanced to the point where in-flight calls — relayed first through a special system on planes — won’t overload cell towers on the ground. As a result, Wheeler has said, there’s no reason the government should prohibit in-flight calls. The FCC proposal comes weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on using personal electronic devices such as iPads and Kindles below 10,000 feet, saying they don’t interfere with cockpit instruments.

Just because technology has advanced, it doesn’t mean that etiquette has. Many fliers fear their fellow passengers will subject them to long-winded conversations impossible to avoid at 35,000 feet.

The Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday finds that 48 percent of Americans oppose allowing cellphones to be used for voice calls while flying; just 19 percent support it. Another 30 percent are neutral.

Among those who fly, opposition is stronger. Looking just at Americans who have taken more than one flight in the past year, 59 percent are against allowing calls on planes. That number grows to 78 percent among those who’ve taken four or more flights.

Interestingly, you can count Wheeler in the opposition. “We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes. I feel that way myself,” he said in a Nov. 22 statement.

The chairman went on to say that his intention is for the airlines — not the government — to make the decision whether or not to allow calls.

Delta Air Lines is the only airline to explicitly state that it won’t allow voice calls. Delta says years of feedback from customers show “the overwhelming sentiment” is to keep the ban in place. American Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways all plan to study the issue and listen to feedback from passengers and crew.

The nation’s largest flight attendant union opposes a change, saying cellphone use could lead to fights between passengers.

Most Middle East airlines and a few in Asia and Europe already allow voice calls on planes.

Before the FCC commissioners can even meet Thursday afternoon, they must go to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the change.

House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) has called all five commissioners to a 10 a.m. hearing on the matter.

Walden said Wednesday that “allowing cellphones on planes sounds like the premise of a new reality show: ‘Cage Fighting at 30,000 Feet.’”

Separately, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) plans to introduce a bill prohibiting such calls.

“If passengers are going to be forced to listen to the gossip in the aisle seat, it’s going to make for a very long flight,” Shuster said in a statement.

In contrast to the negative sentiment about phone calls, many take a favorable view of the lifting of the ban on personal electronic devices. The poll shows that 43 percent of Americans support the FAA’s move, while 19 percent oppose it. Another 37 percent are neutral. Among frequent fliers, support rises to 69 percent.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 5-9, 2013 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. For results based on all 1,367 adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. It is 5.4 points for results among 560 people who have taken at least one flight in the last year.

KnowledgePanel is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later completed this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have Internet access were provided with access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott

Follow SCOTT MAYEROWITZ on Twitter @GlobeTrotScott


Year after Newtown, gun control groups keep hope

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Having already lost her 6-year-old son, Nicole Hockley insists she won’t lose the fight to reduce gun violence — no matter how long it takes.

She is among a group of “accidental activist” parents brought together one year ago by almost unthinkable grief after the Newtown school massacre. The shootings were so horrific that many predicted they would force Congress to approve long-stalled legislation to tighten the nation’s gun laws.

They did not.

A divided Congress denied President Barack Obama’s calls for changes. The national gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is arguably stronger than ever. And surveys suggest that support for new gun laws is slipping as the Newtown memory fades.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that that 52 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws, while 31 percent want them left as they are and 15 percent say they should be loosened. But the strength of the support for tighter controls has dropped since January, when 58 percent said gun laws should be tightened and just 5 percent felt they were too strong.

After a year of personal suffering and political frustration, Hockley and other Newtown parents are fighting to stay optimistic as their effort builds a national operation backed by an alliance of well-funded organizations working to pressure Congress ahead of next fall’s elections. The groups are sending dozens of paid staff into key states, enlisting thousands of volunteer activists and preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars against politicians who stand in the way of their goals.

It may well take time, they say, to counter the influence of the NRA on Capitol Hill.

“I know it’s not a matter of if it happens. It’s a matter of when. This absolutely keeps me going,” says Hockley, who joined a handful of Newtown parents in a private White House meeting with Vice President Joe Biden this week. “No matter how much tragedy affects you, you have to find a way forward. You have to invest in life.”

Hockley’s son Dylan was among 26 people shot to death — including 20 first graders — last Dec. 14 inside Sandy Hook Elementary. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza used a military-style assault rifle in the Friday-morning attack that ended when he killed himself.

The shootings profoundly changed this small Connecticut community and thrust gun violence back into the national debate. Led by Obama, gun control advocates called for background checks for all gun purchasers and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Hockley and other Newtown parents hastened into action, privately lobbying members of Congress for changes. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has spent roughly $15 million this year on advertising to influence the debate. And former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in 2011, launched a national tour calling for background checks.

Yet Congress has enacted no new gun curbs since the Newtown shooting.

The inaction in Washington underscores the ongoing potency of the NRA and other gun rights groups, opposition from most Republicans and the reluctance of many Democrats from GOP-leaning states to anger voters by further restricting firearms.

Nearly eight months since the Senate rejected expanded background checks for gun buyers — the year’s foremost legislative effort on the issue — Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hasn’t found the five votes he would need to revive the measure. He has said he won’t revisit the bill until he has the 60 votes he would need to prevail.

Says Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy: “I was repulsed by the inability of the Congress of the United States to deal with reality.”

But there is little sign of resentment or resignation from the most prominent gun control groups. They’re re-doubling their efforts before next fall’s elections.

The head of Bloomberg’s organization says that the billionaire New York mayor is installing paid staff in more than a dozen states expected to take up gun control legislation next year to complement a robust Washington lobbying operation and television ads.

“In 2012, the mayor spent about $10 million or so dipping his toe in the water. I guess we’ll find out what the whole foot looks like in 2014,” said Mark Glaze, Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ executive director.

Giffords’ also promises to be a major player, despite health limitations. Her group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, has created a nonprofit and political action committee on pace to raise more than $20 million before the midterms, according to group officials.

“You can’t have 20 first-graders murdered in their classroom, and have a country that’s done nothing about it and just think the issue’s going away,” says Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. “We’re going to keep the press on.”

Hockley belongs to a group called Sandy Hook Promise, which recently started a campaign to recruit 500,000 parents nationwide to join its effort before this week’s anniversary. They’re enlisting the help of celebrities such as including Sofia Vergara, Ed O’Neill and Alyssa Milano.

Yet there’s division even among like-minded groups over whether to push for background checks or a less-contentious mental health bill.

Sandy Hook Promise is now focusing more on mental health. Bloomberg is pushing aggressively for background checks. And Giffords’ group wants both, although Kelly says he has low expectations for background checks in the short term.

Like other Newtown parents, Mark Barden is undeterred.

“We’re trying to change the culture, and you don’t do that in a couple of months or a couple of years even,” says Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel in last year’s shooting. “All my eggs are in this basket from now on. I have an obligation to my little Daniel.”

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Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington, Susan Haigh in Connecticut and Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll: Discontent with Congress, Obama high; most want their House member ousted

By CHARLES BABINGTON and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Heading into a congressional election year, Americans hold Congress in strikingly low regard, and nearly two-thirds say they would like to see their House member replaced, a new poll finds.

Even though Americans are feeling somewhat better about the economy — and their personal finances — elected officials in Washington aren’t benefiting from the improved mood, the Associated Press-GfK poll found.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating was negative: 58 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, while 42 percent approve.

Obama isn’t running for office again, however, whereas all 435 House seats and one-third of the Senate’s seats are on the ballot next November. And nearly 9 in 10 adults disapprove of the way lawmakers are handling their jobs.

The low opinions of Congress don’t necessarily signal major power shifts next year in the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate. House Democrats need to gain at least 17 net seats to claim the majority. But many House districts are so solidly liberal or conservative that incumbents can withstand notable drops in popularity and keep their seats.

Republicans hope to gain six Senate seats overall to retake control of that chamber for the last two years of Obama’s presidency.

On one major issue, most Americans continue to favor providing a path to legal status for millions of immigrants living here illegally. Fifty-five percent support it, and 43 percent oppose. The Senate passed a major immigration bill that would provide a legalization path. But the House has sidelined the issue so far.

Despite the relatively low opinions of Congress and Obama, the national mood is not quite as bleak as it was in October, when partisan stalemate led to a 16-day partial government shutdown and fears of a possible default.

More Americans now say things are heading in the right direction and the economy is improving, the AP-GfK poll found. But those figures are still fairly anemic, below 40 percent.

Congressional approval stands at 13 percent, with 86 percent of adults disapproving. That sentiment holds across party lines: 86 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of independents disapprove.

Democrats have a slim edge as the party Americans would prefer to control Congress, 39 percent to 33 percent. But a sizable 27 percent say it doesn’t matter who’s in charge.

In a sign of public discontent, 62 percent of registered voters say they’d like someone new to win their congressional district next year, while 37 percent support their incumbent’s re-election.

That’s a worrisome trend for incumbents’ campaigns. Four years ago, polls by NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Marist found fewer than half of Americans wanting their own representative ousted.

When elected officials are dropped from the equation, the public mood brightens a bit, the new poll found. The share of adults saying things in this country are heading in the right direction has climbed 12 percentage points since the government shutdown, to 34 percent. Still, almost twice as many, 66 percent, say things are heading the wrong way.

Independents, who can be crucial in general elections when persuaded to vote, share the modestly growing optimism. Whereas 82 percent of independents said the country was headed in the wrong direction in October, the number now is 69 percent.

Ratings of the economy have also improved since October. Still, 68 percent of adults say the U.S. economy is in bad shape, down slightly from 73 percent in October.

More adults now say they expect improvement in their household’s financial standing in the coming year: 30 percent, compared with 24 percent in October. More also say it’s a good time to make major purchases, although the number is an unimpressive 19 percent.

Megan Barnes of Columbia, Md., is among those who see an uptick in their own finances but give scant credit to politicians.

“I think the economy seems to be fairly stable, and for my family in the future, it’s going to be OK,” said Barnes, 32, a stay-at-home mom married to a software engineer.

She said she strongly disapproves of Congress and leans toward disapproval of Obama.

In Congress, Barnes said, “I’d like to see people put their jobs on the line to get things done, and not worry about the next election.” A moderate Republican, Barnes said she would like to see someone replace her congressman, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings.

As for Obama, she said it’s troubling that he seemed to know little about the National Security Agency’s spying on international allies or the serious problems in the rollout of his sweeping health care law. “He also doesn’t seem to really work with the Congress a lot, even with his own party, to build consensus and get things done,” Barnes said.

Americans have grown skeptical of some of the personal attributes the president relied on to win re-election in 2012. The new poll finds just 41 percent think he’s decisive, 44 percent see him as strong and 45 percent call him inspiring. On honesty, he’s lost ground since October. Now, 56 percent say the word “honest” does not describe Obama well.

Nearly half of American adults have an unfavorable impression of Obama, and 46 percent have a favorable impression.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 5-9 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,367 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.

Using probability sampling methods, KnowledgePanel is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed for this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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Online: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com .

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Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

 


In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

 By CONNIE CASS

WASHINGTON (AP) — You can take our word for it. Americans don’t trust each other anymore.

We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away.

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

“I’m leery of everybody,” said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, N.Y. “Caution is always a factor.”

Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists.

What’s known as “social trust” brings good things.

A society where it’s easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth.

Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities.

Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher.

“It’s like the rules of the game,” Clark said. “When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.”

There’s no easy fix.

In fact, some studies suggest it’s too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting. That research says the basis for a person’s lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war.

People do get a little more trusting as they age. But beginning with the baby boomers, each generation has started off adulthood less trusting than those who came before them.

The best hope for creating a more trusting nation may be figuring out how to inspire today’s youth, perhaps united by their high-tech gadgets, to trust the way previous generations did in simpler times.

There are still trusters around to set an example.

Pennsylvania farmer Dennis Hess is one. He runs an unattended farm stand on the honor system.

Customers pick out their produce, tally their bills and drop the money into a slot, making change from an unlocked cashbox. Both regulars and tourists en route to nearby Lititz, Pa., stop for asparagus in spring, corn in summer and, as the weather turns cold, long-neck pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies.

“When people from New York or New Jersey come up,” said Hess, 60, “they are amazed that this kind of thing is done anymore.”

Hess has updated the old ways with technology. He added a video camera a few years back, to help catch people who drive off without paying or raid the cashbox. But he says there isn’t enough theft to undermine his trust in human nature.

“I’ll say 99 and a half percent of the people are honest,” said Hess, who’s operated the produce stand for two decades.

There’s no single explanation for Americans’ loss of trust.

The best-known analysis comes from “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam’s nearly two decades of studying the United States’ declining “social capital,” including trust.

Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the “long civic generation” that came of age during the Depression and World War II.

University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner, who studies politics and trust, puts the blame elsewhere: economic inequality.

Trust has declined as the gap between the nation’s rich and poor gapes ever wider, Uslaner says, and more and more Americans feel shut out. They’ve lost their sense of a shared fate. Tellingly, trust rises with wealth.

“People who believe the world is a good place and it’s going to get better and you can help make it better, they will be trusting,” Uslaner said. “If you believe it’s dark and driven by outside forces you can’t control, you will be a mistruster.”

African-Americans consistently have expressed far less faith in “most people” than the white majority does. Racism, discrimination and a high rate of poverty destroy trust.

Nearly 8 in 10 African-Americans, in the 2012 survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with principal funding from the National Science Foundation, felt that “you can’t be too careful.” That figure has held remarkably steady across the 25 GSS surveys since 1972.

The decline in the nation’s overall trust quotient was driven by changing attitudes among whites.

It’s possible that people today are indeed less deserving of trust than Americans in the past, perhaps because of a decline in moral values.

“I think people are acting more on their greed,” said Murawski, a computer specialist who says he has witnessed scams and rip-offs. “Everybody wants a comfortable lifestyle, but what are you going to do for it? Where do you draw the line?”

Ethical behavior such as lying and cheating are difficult to document over the decades. It’s worth noting that the early, most trusting years of the GSS poll coincided with Watergate and the Vietnam War. Trust dropped off in the more stable 1980s.

Crime rates fell in the 1990s and 2000s, and still Americans grew less trusting. Many social scientists blame 24-hour news coverage of distant violence for skewing people’s perceptions of crime.

Can anything bring trust back?

Uslaner and Clark don’t see much hope anytime soon.

Thomas Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar launched by Putnam, believes the trust deficit is “eminently fixable” if Americans strive to rebuild community and civic life, perhaps by harnessing technology.

After all, the Internet can widen the circle of acquaintances who might help you find a job. Email makes it easier for clubs to plan face-to-face meetings. Googling someone turns up information that used to come via the community grapevine.

But hackers and viruses and hateful posts eat away at trust. And sitting home watching YouTube means less time out meeting others.

“A lot of it depends on whether we can find ways to get people using technology to connect and be more civically involved,” Sander said.

“The fate of Americans’ trust,” he said, “is in our own hands.”

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Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

General Social Survey: http://www3.norc.org/GSS+Website

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ConnieCass


DIGITS: AP-GfK poll finds attention to politics grows despite disapproval

By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

If there’s one word that describes how Americans feel about politics these days, it’s “negative.” Majorities disapprove of Congress and the president and say the nation is heading in the wrong direction. Few trust their political leaders to make the right decisions, and some polls suggest voters would like to see the whole lot turned out next November.

Yet an Associated Press-GfK poll in October found more people tuning in to politics — warts and all — than tuning out.

It’s not a major election year, so day-to-day interest in following news about politics and elections was lower than at the height of last year’s presidential campaign. But just 11 percent said they’re less interested in politics today than four years ago, while 30 percent said they’re more interested than in 2009, before the birth of the tea party or the passage of the health insurance overhaul, when people were about twice as likely as they are now to say the country was heading in the right direction.

Although those who are increasingly attentive to politics now are more likely to identify with a political party than as political independents, they seem to buck a notable trend in Washington: Rather than reflecting the increasing polarization seen in Congress, they tend to mirror the positions of the overall American public. The poll suggests those paying more attention to politics these days hold similar views to Americans generally on a range of prominent issues: the health overhaul law, gun laws, illegal immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage and the seriousness of climate change.

Tuesday’s elections in New Jersey and Virginia also suggested a win for the ideological middle. According to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press, Virginia voters broadly rejected Republican Ken Cuccinelli as “too conservative,” and GOP Gov. Chris Christie trampled Democratic nominee Barbara Buono despite 57 percent of his state’s voters holding a negative impression of his party.

Those tuning out are less likely to see big differences between what the Democrats and Republicans stand for, a position that may reflect judgments about politicians’ motivations rather than their policies.

They frequently cite negativity in politics rather than specific positions as a reason for their distaste. One poll respondent said, “The Republicans are acting like babies. The Democrats are acting like babies. It’s unsettling and disgusting.” Another, “I get tired of hearing the bickering, and I don’t trust anything any of the politicians say.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7, 2013, and involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, a probability-based Internet panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Panelists were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed for this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access it at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta

 

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Digits is Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta’s take on the numbers that reflect our world and the survey research techniques used to find them.


AP-GFK Poll: Obama calls on Congress to pass immigration legislation by the end of the year

By Jim Kuhnhenn and  Donna Cassata

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama made a plea for Republican cooperation on immigration Thursday, seeking common ground by year’s end in the aftermath of the divisive partial government shutdown. Yet prospects for success this year remain a long shot even as a handful of House GOP lawmakers push for more limited measures.

Obama’s renewed focus on immigration comes amid mounting criticism of the White House over computer problems that have plagued insurance enrollment under the 3-year-old health care law. It also comes nearly four months since a bipartisan majority in the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill that would tighten border security and provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

“Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems,” Obama said during an event devoted to immigration at the White House.

The Senate measure has stalled in the House, where most Republicans reject a comprehensive approach and many question offering citizenship to people who broke U.S. immigration laws to be in this country.

Still, White House officials say they believe that the partial government shutdown, rather than poisoning the political atmosphere, may have created an opportunity for collaboration with Republicans seeking to repair their image, which polls show took a hit during the prolonged fight over financing the government and extending the nation’s borrowing limit.

Moreover, Obama made a point of underscoring support for an immigration bill from the members of the business community, traditional Republican allies who criticized GOP tactics that led to the partial shutdown and to brinkmanship over a potentially economy-jarring default on U.S. debt.

The White House took notice when Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, indicated on Wednesday that he was hopeful that immigration legislation could be done before year’s end.

But Republican strategists also say the most opportune time to act might not come until after next year’s 2014 primary elections, when lawmakers will be freer to vote without fear of having to run against a more conservative challenger.

And while Obama called for the House to pass a large bill that could then be reconciled with the Senate version, House Republicans want to approach any changes in piecemeal fashion, a process that at best would push any significant progress into next year.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said Thursday that the House “will not consider any massive, Obamacare-style legislation that no one understands.” He said the House is committed to a deliberate, “step-by-step approach.”

“Obviously, there is no appetite for one big bill,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart told a group of reporters Wednesday night. The Florida Republican, who had been a member of the unsuccessful bipartisan “gang of eight,” is working with other Republicans on a set of bills that would allow undocumented immigrants to “get right with the law.”

Diaz-Balart avoided using the word “legalization” because it has become so politically fraught.

Arguments that the issue is a political drag on the GOP that will undermine the party’s chances in the 2016 presidential election have failed to sway rank-and-file Republicans, who are responding to the demands of base GOP voters in their districts rather than the nation’s changing demographics.

In an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in early October, 52 percent said they favored providing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the United States to become citizens, while 44 percent said they opposed such a plan. Most Democrats in the survey backed the idea (70 percent favored it, 29 percent opposed), while independents were divided, 45 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed. Republicans broke against it, with 34 percent in favor and 65 percent opposed.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is working on his own measure to provide temporary status for some immigrants in the country illegally.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., are focused on legislation to deal with immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The Judiciary Committee moved forward with individual, single-issue immigration bills before the August recess, but the full House has taken no action on the measures.

Responding to Obama, Goodlatte rejected the comprehensive Senate approach and insisting on piecemeal measures that address enforcement, border security and the appropriate legal status for those immigrants here illegally.

“We don’t need another massive, Obamacare-like bill that is full of surprises and dysfunction after it becomes law,” he said in a statement, echoing Boehner’s office.

Diaz-Balart also underscored another challenge — the GOP insistence that any measure brought to the House floor have the support of a majority of Republicans. With 231 Republicans in the House now, that means at least 115 GOP members.

“We have to get the majority of the majority to move forward,” Diaz-Balart said. “It’s also mathematically that we’re going to need Democratic votes.”

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Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.

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Follow Jim Kuhnhenn at http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn and Donna Cassata at https://twitter.com/DonnaCassataAP

 


AP-GfK Poll: Americans find little to like about Obama or either party heading into 2014 midterm elections

By NEDRA PICKLER and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a “throw the bums out” mentality in next year’s midterm elections.

The AP-GfK poll finds few people approve of the way the president is handling most major issues and most people say he’s not decisive, strong, honest, reasonable or inspiring.

In the midst of the government shutdown and Washington gridlock, the president is faring much better than his party, with large majorities of those surveyed finding little positive to say about Democrats. The negatives are even higher for the Republicans across the board, with 4 out of 5 people describing the GOP as unlikeable and dishonest and not compassionate, refreshing, inspiring or innovative.

Negativity historically hurts the party in power — particularly when it occurs in the second term of a presidency — but this round seems to be hitting everyone. More people now say they see bigger differences between the two parties than before Obama was elected, yet few like what either side is offering. A big unknown: possible fallout from the unresolved budget battle in Washington.

The numbers offer warning signs for every incumbent lawmaker, and if these angry sentiments stretch into next year, the 2014 elections could feel much like the 2006 and 2010 midterms when being affiliated with Washington was considered toxic by many voters. In 2006, voters booted Republicans from power in the House and Senate, and in 2010, they fired Democrats who had been controlling the House.

“There needs to be a major change,” said Pam Morrison, 56, of Lincoln, Neb., among those who were surveyed. “I’m anxious for the next election to see what kind of new blood we can get.”

Morrison describes herself as a conservative Republican and said she is very concerned about how her adult children are going to afford insurance under Obama’s health care law. She places most of the blame for the shutdown on the president, but she also disapproves of the job Congress is doing. “I don’t think they’re working together,” Morrison said.

“Congress needs to take a look at their salaries, they need to take a cut to their salaries and they need to feel some of the pain the American people are feeling,” said Morrison, who is married to a government worker who she said has been deemed essential and is still on the job.

People across the political spectrum voiced disappointment.

Suzanne Orme, a 74-year-old retiree and self-described liberal who lives in California’s Silicon Valley, says the shutdown is more the Republican Party’s fault. “The Republicans seem to be a bunch of morons who aren’t going to give in for anything. I just don’t get it with them. They are just crazy,” she said.

But she also said she strongly disapproves of the way Obama is handling his job, and doesn’t find him likable, decisive, strong, honest, compassionate, refreshing, ethical, inspiring or reasonable. The only positive attribute she gave him was innovative.

“It sounds like he’s kind of weak. He says one thing and does another,” Orme said after taking the survey. For example, she said Obama hasn’t made good on his promise to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and changed his position on whether people should be penalized for failing to get health insurance.

“I voted for him, and he’s turned out to be a big disappointment,” she said. “I mean, what’s the alternative?” Orme said it just seems to her that Washington is run by lobbyists and consumed by financial greed.

A bad sign for Democrats is that Obama has bled support among independents — 60 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, while only 16 percent approve. As he began his second term in January, independents tilted positive, 48 percent approved and 39 percent disapproved.

Neither party can win without the support of independents, with only about a third of the poll’s respondents identifying themselves as Democrats and about a quarter as Republicans.

Obama has held onto support from Carol Cox, a 59-year-old independent from Hartville, Ohio, who says she feels the president helps people in need. She is happy to see his health care law that offers coverage to the uninsured and to people with pre-existing conditions, although she thinks the rollout could have been better. “I think he’s doing an OK job,” she said of the president.

But she is not happy with either party in Congress. She said the shutdown is affecting her family’s investments and she’s concerned about the future of Social Security. “I’m really angry and frustrated. I can’t believe how mad I am about this.”

As for next year’s congressional election, she said, “I would love to see just a total turnover.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7, 2013, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,227 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. Those who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to get online at no cost.

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News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nedrapickler and Jennifer Agiesta at http://twitter.com/JennAgiesta

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Online: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Health exchange rollout gets poor reviews

By NANCY BENAC and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The debut of the government’s health insurance marketplaces drew a huge audience — and underwhelming reviews.

Just 7 percent of Americans say the rollout of the health exchanges has gone extremely well or very well, according to an AP-GfK poll.

The reaction was somewhat better among supporters of the new health care law, but still middling: 19 percent said the rollout went extremely well or very well.

Among the uninsured — a key audience for the health exchanges — 42 percent said they didn’t know enough to judge how well the rollout had gone, suggesting an ongoing lack of awareness about the program in its early days.

Despite the bumpy rollout, plenty of Americans are giving the system a try.

Seven percent of Americans reported that somebody in their household has tried to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges, according to the poll.

While that’s a small percentage, it could represent more than 20 million people.

Three-fourths of those who tried to sign up reported problems, though, and that’s reflected in the poor reviews.

George Spinner, 60, a retired government worker from Ruther Glen, Va., said he managed to create an online account and password before he got stuck.

“It kept telling me there was an error,” he said.

Reynol Rodriguez, a computer technician from San Antonio, said he was able to do some comparison shopping online but computer glitches kept him from signing up.

“I was very much looking forward to it,” said Rodriguez, 51. “That’s what this country needs — affordable health care.”

Rodriguez pledged to keep trying — just what President Barack Obama has been recommending to those who’ve run into trouble.

Count Janice Brown, a semiretired travel agent from Prather, Calif., among those who had a positive experience.

After some initial trouble on the website, she got through to a help line and downloaded an application to buy a plan for $1,500 a month for herself and her husband. That’s $1,000 less than her current private plan.

“I’m thrilled,” said Brown, 61. “The coverage is better. It’s fantastic.”

Among those who’ve actually tested out the system, only about 1 in 10 succeeded in buying health insurance, the poll found. A quarter of those who tried to buy coverage weren’t sure whether they’d succeeded.

Overall, 40 percent of Americans said the launch of the insurance markets hasn’t gone well, 20 percent said it’s gone somewhat well and 30 percent didn’t know what to say. Just 7 percent said the launch had gone “very well” or “somewhat well.”

Even among those who support the president’s health care overhaul law, just 19 percent think the rollout has gone extremely well or very well. Forty percent say it’s gone somewhat well, and 18 percent think not too well or not well at all.

The survey offers an early snapshot on use of the new health insurance exchanges set up by states and the federal government under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Thirty-six states are using the federal government’s site, HealthCare.gov, which the Obama administration says has had millions of unique visitors. The administration has declined to release enrollment statistics, saying that will be done monthly.

White House senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness said the administration is working around the clock “to improve the consumer experience,” and she stressed that the poll was taken just six days into a campaign over the coming months to educate people about their options.

She added, “The overwhelming attention from millions of Americans checking out HealthCare.gov during the first few days is a good testament to the interest of Americans in new affordable health options.”

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 7 million uninsured people will gain coverage through the online insurance marketplaces next year, but the role of the markets is actually much bigger than that.

They were intended to be a 21st century portal to coverage for people who do not have access to health insurance on the job. And that includes insured people as well as the uninsured.

There are three big groups of potential customers for the markets: uninsured middle-class people who now will be able to get government-subsidized private coverage; people who currently purchase their own individual policies and are looking for better deals; and low-income people who will be steered by the marketplace to an expanded version of Medicaid in states that agree to expand that safety net program.

The Census Bureau has estimated that about 48 million Americans lacked coverage in 2012, or more than 15 percent of the population.

Starting next year, the law requires virtually all Americans to have insurance or face a tax penalty after a coverage gap of three months.

Opinions are sharply divided on the overall framework of the law: 28 percent of Americans support it, 38 percent are opposed, and 32 percent don’t have an opinion either way, the poll found. When asked specifically whether the government should be able to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine, only about 3 in 10 Americans agreed, and 68 percent were opposed.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. For results among the 76 respondents who attempted to use health insurance markets, the margin of error is plus or minus 13.5 percentage points.

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Associated Press writers Andrew Miga and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Follow Benac and Agiesta on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nbenac and http://twitter.com/JennAgiesta


AP-GfK Poll: Republicans get most blame for shutdown, tea party is potent and divisive factor

By CALVIN WOODWARD and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and lawmakers must rise above their incessant bickering and do more to end the partial government shutdown, according to a poll Wednesday that places the brunt of the blame on Republicans but finds no one standing tall in Washington.

“So frustrating,” Martha Blair, 71, of Kerrville, Texas, said of the fiscal paralysis as her scheduled national parks vacation sits in limbo. “Somebody needs to jerk those guys together to get a solution, instead of just saying ‘no.’”

The Associated Press-GfK survey affirms expectations by many in Washington — Republicans among them — that the GOP may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion from the shutdown, as happened when much of the government closed 17 years ago. But the situation is fluid nine days into the shutdown and there’s plenty of disdain to go around.

Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.

Most Americans consider the shutdown a serious problem for the country, the poll finds, though more than four in five have felt no personal effect. For those who have, thwarted vacations and a honeymoon at shuttered national parks, difficulty getting work done without federal contacts on the job and hitches in government benefits were among the complaints.

Asked if she blamed Obama, House Republicans, Senate Democrats or the tea party for the shutdown, Blair, an independent, said yes, you bet. All of them. She’s paid to fly with a group to four national parks in Arizona and California next month and says she can’t get her money back or reschedule if the parks remain closed. “I’m concerned,” she said, “but it seems kind of trivial to people who are being shut out of work.”

The poll found that the tea party is more than a gang of malcontents in the political landscape, as its supporters in Congress have been portrayed by Democrats. Rather, it’s a sizable — and divisive — force among Republicans. More than 4 in 10 Republicans identified with the tea party and were more apt than other Republicans to insist that their leaders hold firm in the standoff over reopening government and avoiding a default of the nation’s debt in coming weeks.

Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it. Congress is scraping rock bottom, with a ghastly approval rating of 5 percent.

Indeed, anyone making headlines in the dispute has earned poor marks for his or her trouble, whether it’s Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, or Republican John Boehner, the House speaker, both with a favorability rating of 18 percent.

And much of the country draws a blank on Republican Ted Cruz of Texas despite his 21-hour Senate speech before the shutdown. Only half in the poll were familiar enough with him to register an opinion. Among those who did, 32 percent viewed him unfavorably, 16 percent favorably.

Tom Moore, 69, of Syracuse, N.Y., a retired electronics executive and Republican-leaning independent, said the GOP has made some good points, badly. The idea of delaying the health care law’s individual insurance mandate for a year, for example, strikes him as reasonable, but not when such demands come from hard-liners like Cruz.

“I think the Republicans have done a very poor job of communicating their mission,” he said. “They’ve been ostracized for trying to bring reality to our budgets.”

But he’s not in tune with the animosity many Republicans exhibit toward the president. Obama, he said, is a compassionate, reasonable and likable man who has set the wrong priorities — “a social mission” — in a time begging for economic renewal.

Comparisons could not be drawn conclusively with how people viewed leaders before the shutdown because the poll was conducted online, while previous AP-GfK surveys were done by telephone. Some changes may be due to the new methodology, not shifts in opinion. The poll provides a snapshot of public opinion starting in the third day of the shutdown.

The poll comes with both sides dug in and trading blame while an unprecedented national default approaches if nothing is done to raise the debt limit. Obama invited all 232 House GOP lawmakers to the White House on Thursday — Republicans said 18 would come. His meeting with congressional leaders last week produced no results. Obama is insisting Republicans reopen government and avert default before any negotiations on deficit reduction or his 2010 health care law are held.

Among the survey’s findings:

— Sixty-eight percent said the shutdown is a major problem for the country, including majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (82 percent) and independents (57 percent).

— Fifty-two percent said Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with Republicans to end the shutdown; 63 percent say Republicans aren’t doing enough to cooperate with him.

— Republicans are split on just how much cooperation they want. Among those who do not back the tea party, fully 48 percent say their party should be doing more with Obama to find a solution. But only 15 percent of tea-party Republicans want that outreach. The vast majority of them say GOP leaders are doing what they should with the president, or should do even less with him.

— People seem conflicted or confused about the showdown over the debt limit. Six in 10 predict an economic crisis if the government’s ability to borrow isn’t renewed later this month with an increase in the debt limit — an expectation widely shared by economists. Yet only 30 percent say they support raising the limit; 46 percent were neutral on the question.

In Mount Prospect, Ill., Barbara Olpinski, 51, a Republican who blames Obama and both parties for the shutdown, said her family is already seeing an impact and that will worsen if the impasse goes on. She’s an in-home elderly care director, her daughter is a physician’s assistant at a rural clinic that treats patients who rely on government coverage, and her husband is a doctor who can’t get flu vaccines for patients on public assistance because deliveries have stopped.

“People don’t know how they are going to pay for things, and what will be covered,” she said. “Everybody is kind of like holding their wallets.”

Moore traveled to Las Vegas with his wife and Florida relatives hoping to see Red Rock Canyon, only to find the national conservation area closed. Instead they went to Hoover Dam, also a federal property but one that has remained open because it is not financed with congressional appropriations. “Not a catastrophe,” he said, but he doesn’t know when they’ll go again.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7 and involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey used GfK’s KnowledgePanel, a probability-based Internet panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed for this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have online access were given that access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.


AP-WE tv Poll: 2 in 5 women would consider single motherhood; more than a third would adopt solo

By JOCELYN NOVECK and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

 As Christy Everson was nearing age 40, she made a decision: She wanted to have a child, even though she was single and it meant doing it all alone. Her daughter, conceived via a sperm donor, is now 2 1/2 years old, and Everson hopes to have a second child.

“Was it worthwhile? Well, I’m thinking of doing it again, aren’t I?” she says.

Everson and women like her are part of a shift in American society. An Associated Press-WE tv poll of people under 50 found that more than 2 in 5 unmarried women without children — or 42 percent — would consider having a child on their own without a partner, including more than a third, or 37 percent, who would consider adopting solo.

The poll, which addressed a broad range of issues on America’s changing family structures, dovetails with a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau that single motherhood is on the rise: It found that of 4.1 million women who’d given birth in 2011, 36 percent were unmarried at the time of the survey, an increase from 31 percent in 2005. And among mothers 20-24, the percentage was 62 percent, or six in 10 mothers.

The AP-WE tv poll also found that few Americans think the growing variety of family arrangements is bad for society. However, many have some qualms about single mothers, with some two-thirds — or 64 percent — saying single women having children without a partner is a bad thing for society. More men — 68 percent — felt that way, compared to 59 percent of women.

The survey found broad gender gaps in opinion on many issues related to how and when to have children. One example: At a time when the can-you-have-it-all debate rages for working mothers, women were more apt than men to say having children has negatively impacted their career.

And this was true especially among mothers who waited until age 30 or older to have children. Fully 47 percent of those mothers said having a child had a negative impact on their careers. Of women overall, 32 percent of mothers reported a negative effect, compared with 10 percent of men.

For Everson, who lives in a suburb of Minneapolis and is now 44, being the only parent means daily responsibilities that naturally suck up some of the time she used to spend on her career as a financial consultant.

“To be honest about it, it’s hard to be a rock star” when parenting a baby, she says. But she sees it as more of a temporary career setback, and feels she’s already getting back on track with her toddler now over age 2. Soon, she says, “I’ll be getting back on my A-game.”

For Joyce Chen, a hospital occupational therapist in San Francisco, it’s a question of what kind of career she wants to have. Chen, 41 and also a single mother, is happy to have work that she not only enjoys, but that she can balance easily with caring for her 10-year-old daughter. “I’ve been blessed,” she says. “I have a decent income. I don’t feel like I need to climb the ladder. I enjoy what I do, but I can leave it at the end of the day and not think about it.”

Chen also credits a strong community of friends from church for helping make her family work. “That community has helped me raise my daughter,” she says. She hopes to get married one day if the right situation comes along.

But Chen feels that a single mom can do just as good a job of raising a child as two parents can. Overall, the poll found decidedly mixed results on that question: Thirty percent of respondents said yes, 27 percent said no, and 43 percent said “it depends.”

At 26, Jacqueline Encinias is at a much less established point in her career. A married mother of a month-old baby in Albuquerque, N.M., she aims to go back to school to study accounting. For now, though, she says she’s “just looking for something to get me by.” Encinias says that she would probably not have made the choice to be a mother alone.

“I wouldn’t want my child to grow up with just one parent,” she says. “If other people want to do it, it’s OK, but it’s not for me.” Support of a partner is crucial to her, she says. (Finding the right person to parent with was a key factor in the decision to have a child, the poll found, cited by both current parents and non-parents.)

Shermeka Austin, a 23-year-old student in Warren, Mich., feels the same way. “That would not be a choice for me, being a single parent,” Austin says. She hopes to get married and have children one day, but first, she says, she wants to focus on her goal of opening her own bakery. Once she achieves that, she’d be happy to make sacrifices in order to have kids. In the poll, about three-quarters (76 percent) of women without children said that it was important for them to reach certain career goals before they start a family.

While 42 percent of unmarried women said they would consider single parenthood, compared with 24 percent of men, answers varied greatly as to the ways they’d consider going about it. Thirty-seven percent of women said they’d consider adopting solo (compared to 19 percent of men), about a third of women — 31 percent — said they’d consider freezing their eggs, and 27 percent would be willing to use artificial insemination and donor sperm.

Stacey Ehlinder, a 28-year-old event planner in Denver, says she would consider some of those options at some point if necessary — though she’s currently in a relationship headed towards marriage. She says she’s surprised by the high percentage of poll respondents who had doubts about single mothers. “It just seems like these days there are so many more definitions of a family,” she says.

Ehlinder is confident that if she does have children, she’ll be able to balance career and motherhood. “In my industry, and in companies I’ve worked for, I’ve seen flexibility given to mothers,” she says. “It makes me feel confident that I could juggle things and be the mother I want to be.”

Many respondents, in interviews, said that while the optimal situation for raising kids is two parents, there’s no prescription for the perfect family.

Matthew Dean, a father of three in San Antonio, Texas, said he was glad that his wife, a former teacher, is able to stay home with their kids, an arrangement that was originally supposed to be temporary. “It was first, let’s do it through kindergarten, then it was, let’s do it through second grade…” he quips. Ultimately they decided it was best for the children. “I look around and realize how everything would have been so chaotic and rushed, otherwise,” Dean says.

Still, he says, he understands that many different arrangements work, including single-parent families. “It’s maybe not preferred, but it is what it is,” says Dean, 46. “It’s an added challenge, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s no guarantee in any situation. People can have a two-parent situation that is a complete wreck.”

The poll was conducted in conjunction with WE tv ahead of the launch of the show “Pregnant and Dating,” which looks at the dating lives of women on the verge of becoming single mothers. It was conducted May 15-23, 2013 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,277 people age 18-49, including interviews with 298 women who have children or are currently pregnant with their first child and have never been married. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents.

KnowledgePanel is constructed using traditional telephone and mail sampling methods to randomly recruit respondents. People selected who had no Internet access were given it for free.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

http://surveys.ap.org

 

 

A deeper look at the key findings in the Associated Press-WE tv poll

 

An Associated Press-WE tv poll took a deep look at how Americans under age 50 feel about having children, single parents and changing family structures.

THE CHANGING AMERICAN FAMILY