Gallup polls Americans on the ‘state of the union’

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     The Capitol Dome in Washington is illuminated early Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. President Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address next Tuesday before a Congress where both the Senate and the House are controlled by Republicans. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

    The Capitol Dome in Washington is illuminated early Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. President Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address next Tuesday before a Congress where both the Senate and the House are controlled by Republicans. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

    NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sits down for his weekly conversation with Gallup’s Frank Newport to talk about trends in American opinion.

    Americans were less concerned about any one specific problem last year than they have been in the past — say Iraq in 2005 or the economy in 2009 — but that dissatisfaction with the way government works was the top single problem facing the nation. The economy was second, followed by unemployment and immigration.

    One measure of the “state of the union” is how satisfied Americans are with the way things are going in the U.S.

    The president can point out that satisfaction did edge up slightly during 2015 compared with previous years, particularly in comparison to 2009, and 2010. But certainly nowhere near the “glory days” of the late 1990s and also back in Reagan’s middle years.

    President Obama’s overall job approval rating for 2016 was 46 percent, higher than Bush’s in his penultimate year, much lower than Clinton’s in 1999, about the same as Reagan’s in 1987, and well below where Ike was in 1959. But the public’s views of Obama are extraordinarily partisan.

    Ted Cruz is now clearly the candidate with the most positive image of any candidate among Republicans — 61 percent favorable, and 15 percent unfavorable. Jeb Bush is negative among Republicans — 44 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable — a remarkable fall from favor.

    Trump’s image is constant at 57 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable.

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