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Most feel good about the economy but not the state of the country — CBS News poll

Ahead of President Trump's State of the Union address, more Americans feel positive about the state of the economy than they do about the state of the country overall.  As Mr. Trump gets record high approval ratings on handling the economy, more think he has divided the country than united it.

Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults say the economy is in good shape, the highest in almost 20 years.

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Fifty-seven percent approve the job the president is doing on the economy — the highest since he took office. Most who describe the condition of the economy as good say the president is at least partially responsible for that, including most Democrats.

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Still, when asked about the state of the union today, views are mostly negative. Fifty-six percent of Americans say things are fair or bad, while 44% say great or good. Opinions divide starkly along partisan lines. Most Republicans say the state of the country is great or good, while most Democrats say it's fair or bad.

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Nearly half of those who say the economy is in good shape view the state of the country negatively. Seven in 10 of this group — who feel positive about the economy but negative about the state of the country — disapproves of the job the president is doing overall.

While Mr. Trump enjoys a positive rating on the economy, his overall job rating and his marks on other issues are lower. Forty-three percent approve of the president's job performance overall.

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With his fourth year in office just underway, more than half of Americans say Mr. Trump has mostly done what he said he would as president. This is particularly true of Republicans. More than 9 in 10 of them think President Trump has done what he said he would do, and 56% of independents agree. Two-thirds of Democrats disagree.

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The president's overall approval rating has remained relatively stable throughout his presidency, and most (70%) say they have made up their mind about him. Just 28% say the president could do or say something that would change their view about his job performance. Majorities of those who approve and disapprove of his job performance say their minds are made up about him, as do most Democrats and Republicans.

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The president's ratings on handling foreign policy and immigration are negative — more than half disapprove of his handling of each — while his ratings on trade are more divided. Despite his positive ratings on handling the economy, more than half of Americans say the president doesn't care much or not at all about the needs and problems of people like them. Most Republicans, however, say he does.

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Partisan splits are also evident in other evaluations of the president and his policies. Most Democrats (and independents) think President Trump's presidency has divided Americans, while Republicans are more inclined to say it has brought them together.

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A majority of Republicans think the president's policies have made the county safer, while Democrats say they have made the country less safe. There is little appetite for military conflict with Iran. Most Americans — including majorities across party lines — think Iran is a threat that can be contained.

Looking ahead, 68% of Americans are optimistic about the economy over the next year, while a somewhat smaller majority of 59% are optimistic about America's standing in the world. Most across party lines have a positive outlook on the economy, but most Democrats — unlike Republicans and independents — are pessimistic about the future of the country's standing in the world.

Choosing from a list of items, more Americas pick the economy and health care than impeachment as a top priority for the country. On impeachment, more Americans think it will hurt congressional Democrats politically than say that about Mr. Trump.

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The country divides on the political impact impeachment will have on the president. Four in 10 say it won't have much effect. Democrats are more inclined to think impeachment will hurt the president (39%) than help (11%). Half (50%) of Republicans think the impeachment matter will help President Trump.

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On balance, more Americans say the impeachment trial is being conducted unfairly than fairly. Four in 10 say it's too soon to say. Both Republicans and Democrats are inclined to think the trial is being conducted unfairly, particularly Republicans.

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Both parties in Congress continue to receive negative ratings from the public. Most disapprove of the job congressional Democrats are doing (58%), as well as congressional Republicans (57%).


This poll was conducted by telephone January 26-29, 2020 among a random sample of 1,202 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cellphones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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