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But twice as many blacks (40%) as whites (20%) say it is very divided. In reality, presidential election outcomes can almost never be attributed to a shift in a single demographic group.And just 19 percent of whites say that racism is a big problem in America, vs. Likewise, most campaigns are decided by the popular vote, not the details of the Electoral College.The drop may be partially attributable to rising gas prices. Presidents win victories because ordinary Americans feel that their lives are going well, and we call those Presidents great communicators, because their public persona is the part of them we know. Disapproval of President Obama's handling of the economy is heading higher -- alongside gasoline prices -- as a record number of Americans now give the president "strongly" negative reviews on the 2012 presidential campaign's most important issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Sixty percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been not worth fighting and just 30 percent believe the Afghan public supports the U. mission there -- marking the sour state of attitudes on the war even before the shooting rampage allegedly by a U. It's hard to answer, because it's hypothetical; we haven't had a second-choice question in any of the exit polls this year. economy is growing, up from 27% last April and 3% in 2008. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows not only that Santorum is doing better among GOP women than he was a few weeks ago, but also that he is less unpopular -- and also less well known -- among Democratic and independent women than his Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Negatives associated with the Republican Party have not been this high since right after they lost the country in 2008. Most Americans still say the economy is in a rut, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll, but more and more say the economy is improving.But the data we do see suggest that this argument, at best, is far from a slam-dunk. California's likely voters approach the elections this year with big concerns about the economy and the state's fiscal future, according to a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. Romney eked out a narrow victory in the Ohio Republican primary on Tuesday. While this represents a major shift in economic perceptions over the last four years, nearly half of Americans, 46%, still say the economy is in either a recession or a depression. As another round of voting takes place this week in the Republican presidential race -- with 11 states holding Super Tuesday contests -- a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that the combative and heavily scrutinized primary season so far has damaged the party and its candidates. New Hampshire's attorney general is threatening legal action against some of the nation's most prominent polling firms, invoking a state law against spreading negative information through poll questions in a way that could limit public opinion surveys in one of the nation's most politically contested states. In the midst of a debate on the future of the Medicare program, most Americans, including seniors, are currently taking the side of the status quo, though budgetary arguments about the program's future solvency, as well as arguments about the effects of any change on seniors, have the potential to sway opinion. Michigan's primary drew the Republican Party's ideological, religious and socioeconomic divisions in sharp relief, raising questions both for the primaries ahead and for the party's ability to coalesce behind its eventual candidate. Mitt Romney has fallen to a new low in personal favorability among strong conservatives in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, as his persistent problems in this core GOP group now threaten his fortunes in today's crucial Michigan primary. On the docket of contraception-related issues dividing the parties, more Americans lean toward the positions held by President Obama and most Democrats, though in several cases only narrowly, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. In both 20, narrow majorities said that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters rather than express their views on social and political questions, according to polls by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum for Religion & Public Life. Congressional leaders now sound, and act, like their parliamentary counterparts in foreign lands -- voting in rigid blocs and, in times of legislative gridlock, calling for an election to put the question to the voters. And as the public grows more optimistic about the economy, the poll shows, President Obama is getting some credit for it. About six-in-ten Americans (62%) have heard about the proposed federal rule that would require employers, including most religiously affiliated institutions, to cover birth control as part of their health care benefits.The CBS News exit poll of Ohio Republican primary voters showed that Rick Santorum's coalition of crossover Democrats and socially conservative voters was not quite large enough to offset Mitt Romney's base of ideologically moderate voters. "Can't Buy Me Love" might be the theme song of the Super Tuesday primaries: Mitt Romney prevailed on electability, but in terms of a personal connection with voters' concerns, it was another matter. Tuesday night must have been bittersweet for Mitt Romney. The GOP's self-absorption and obsession with pleasing its conservative base in presidential candidates' rhetoric and in policy initiatives at the congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative levels have taken a toll. Despite growing disappointment in his handling of immigration issues, Latino voters favor President Barack Obama by six-to-one over any of the Republican presidential hopefuls, showed a Fox News Latino poll conducted under the direction of Latin Insights. Among those aware of the issue, opinion is closely divided over whether these institutions should be given an exemption to the rule if they object to the use of contraceptives. Catholics' views of President Obama were little changed during a week in which the administration battled publicly with Catholic leaders over whether church-affiliated employers should have to pay for contraception as part of their employees' health plans. As the debate over the federal budget resumes, a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows that most Americans are concerned about growing dependency on federal entitlements, but still resist major spending cuts in programs benefiting the poor and the elderly. Rick Santorums support among Tea Party Republicans and white evangelicals is surging, and he now has pulled into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Americans broadly support increasing taxes on businesses that move jobs overseas and on the very wealthy.Just as he finally feels the nomination is in hand (as you know, I've been pretty confident of that for a while), he sees victory in the general election slipping further from his grasp. But two other tax proposals -- cutting taxes for companies that bring overseas jobs here, and boosting the capital gains tax -- are much less popular. The vast majority of American voters today, in fact well over 90%, identify with or lean toward one of the two major parties. Republicans and conservatives oppose gay marriage by more than 2-1, evangelical white Protestants by more than 3-1.While Democrats support it by more than 2-1, the balance is tipped, as is often the case, by independents: Fifty-eight percent support legalizing gay marriage; 43 percent do so strongly. After months of aggressive campaigning on jobs and the economy, President Obama and Mitt Romney, his likely Republican challenger, are locked in a dead heat over who could fix the problem foremost on voters' minds, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. In the lull between the Supreme Court arguments over the federal health overhaul law and the decision expected in June, we thought we'd ask Americans who actually use the health system quite a bit how they view the quality of care and its cost.

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But that gap is narrowing-driven mostly by the same process of shifting generational attitudes evident among whites. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney holds a nearly 50-point lead over President Barack Obama (68 percent vs.If these groups are representative of this demographic at large, it will be a tall task to counter the disillusionment many feel due to a pattern of over-promising and under-delivering. Americans remain overwhelmingly against requiring individuals to purchase health insurance, but they divide in half about the health care law that President Obama signed in 2010, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. The recent national Reason-Rupe poll of 1200 adults finds 65 percent of Americans are open to changing Medicare for those under 55 years old into a program that gives individuals a credit to purchase a private insurance plan. Yet his success has not erased old doubts or stereotypes about his party on these issues. A new survey finds signs of public uneasiness with the mixing of religion and politics. Supreme Court should throw out either the individual mandate in the federal health care law or the law in its entirety, signaling the depth of public disagreement with that element of the Affordable Care Act. At a time of rising gas prices, the public's energy priorities have changed. This year's tumultuous Republican presidential race has underscored the dominance of whites, especially older white voters, in the GOP.The number of people who say there has been too much religious talk by political leaders stands at an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. Mitt Romney's resounding win in the Illinois primary Tuesday demonstrated his solidifying hold on the GOP's upscale managerial wing, and deepened the question of whether rival Rick Santorum can appeal to a broad enough segment of Republican voters to truly challenge the front-runner's lead for the nomination. An improved sense that he understands voters' problems boosted Mitt Romney to victory in the Illinois primary, as did a less religiously focused, less strongly conservative electorate than he's faced in other contests, especially to the south. More Americans continue to view the development of alternative energy sources as a higher priority than the increased production of oil, coal and natural gas, but the gap has narrowed considerably over the past year. The power of campaigns to create and motivate new swing voters dovetails with the political strategy of driving polarization. Despite what you might have learned in Economics 101, people aren't always selfish. When people feel that a group they value -- be it racial, religious, regional or ideological -- is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. In a trend with important implications for the presidential election, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll released today shows President Obama's strongest groups in the electorate expressing the most optimism about the trajectory of the economy. Republican voters who prefer Newt Gingrich for the party's 2012 presidential nomination are as likely to name Mitt Romney as their second choice as they are to name Rick Santorum, suggesting the race would not tilt in Santorum's favor if Gingrich dropped out. Faith has emerged as a significant fault line in the Republican race for president, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, which shows that Rick Santorum's supporters seek a much stronger role for religion in American politics than do voters who support rival Mitt Romney. After Tuesday's contests in Alabama and Mississippi, exit polls have been conducted in 16 states that have held Republican primaries or caucuses. Opinions are far less positive, however, about two other major initiatives to bolster the economy -- the 2008 bank bailout and the 2009 stimulus plan. President Barack Obama is enjoying a mini-renaissance in California.The way we talk about voters matters, not just because it affects campaigns and candidates, but because it shapes how we see our country and our fellow citizens -- and the perceptions it fosters are often wrong. The controversy over the death of Trayvon Martin has highlighted issues relating to the treatment of blacks by local police departments, the state of race relations in the U. However, this remains down from prior years, when as many as 61% believed global warming was already manifesting itself. The gender gap in presidential politics is not new.

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Democratic candidates have gotten more support from women than men for more than 30 years.

For both reasons, journalists should keep their eye on the big picture. In all, the most predictable message of 2012 is likely to be that after a surge toward the Republicans following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a tide of disillusionment with President Bush that lifted the Democrats in 20, and a sharp snap back toward the GOP in 2010, America has reverted to being a 50-50 nation. The growing popularity of e-books and the adoption of specialized e-book reading devices are documented in a series of new nationally representative surveys by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project that look at the public's general reading habits, their consumption of print books, e-books and audiobooks, and their attitudes about the changing ways that books are made available to the public. A close look at the last month of the campaign reveals the painful contours of the Santorum slide.