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Ahead of State of the Union, little has changed since last year - CBS News poll

What polls show ahead of Trump's speech

By Fred Backus

As President Trump prepares to deliver his State of the Union address, Americans' views of how the country is doing are largely negative, and similar to a year ago.  Despite a positive assessment of the economy, Americans give the president low marks and are pessimistic about the direction of the country.

In a CBS News poll last month we asked Americans how they would rate the state of the union, and only 35 percent rate it as either good (30 percent) or great (5 percent), while six in 10 rate it as fair (36 percent ) or bad (27 percent). Just 30 percent say the country is headed in the right direction, just slightly more negative than a year ago. Two in three Republicans, however, say it was headed in the right direction.

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CBS News Poll

 Most Americans disapprove of how the president is handling his job

In January 2018, 37 percent of Americans approved of how Mr. Trump was handling his job as president, and 58 percent disapproved –an all-time high, until now. Thirty-six percent of Americans now approve and 59 percent disapprove, topping that previous disapproval record by one percentage point.  As he did a year ago, President Trump continues to hold the support of Republicans, conservatives, and white evangelicals.

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CBS News Poll

On his handling of specific issues, a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of health care and immigration, and – as they did a year ago – they remain split on his handling of the threat of terrorism. Americans are a little more negative about how the president is handling the economy than they were a year ago, and now a majority disapprove. 

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CBS News Poll

Views of the economy remain positive despite a low approval rating

Despite the president's negative ratings, most Americans think the economy is doing well, and 57 percent are optimistic about the economy looking ahead to the next twelve months. And similar to a year ago, most Americans say they make enough money to meet their bills and obligations, including almost a third who are able save money or buy extras.

Assessments of the condition of the economy being at odds with presidential approval is not unique to President Trump's tenure in office. Throughout 2007, President George W. Bush garnered some of the lowest approval ratings of any U.S. president (as low as 27 percent in June 2007) despite the fact that most Americans thought the economy was doing well. Conversely, President Obama had an approval rating of 68 percent around his 100 day mark in April 2009 – the highest rating of his presidency – even while eight in 10 Americans said the economy was in bad shape.

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