While President Obama is set to deliver his fifth State of the Union address tonight, it is the dreadful state of the economy that continues to dominate the minds of Americans — and is still a measure on which polls show the public continues to have its doubts about the president’s performance.
Fewer than half of Americans, 45 percent, approve of the way Obama is handling the economy, while 49 percent disapprove, according to a poll released by CBS News. But the president is doing better on his overall approval rating, with 52 percent of Americans approving and 38 percent disapproving — though the numbers are divided along party lines, with only 12 percent of Republicans approving and 86 percent of Democrats approving (and just under half of independents approving).
Those poll numbers on the economy certainly are prominent in the minds of White House officials. While the president is sure to talk tonight about some of the big goals of his administration, such as gun control and immigration reform, there will be a lot of focus on creating jobs and bolstering the economy.
In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last month, respondents said the main thing they would tell the president as he begins his second term is “create jobs” and “fix the economy.” In addition, when asked whether the year ahead would be a time of opportunity and expansion for their families, or a time to hold back and save for harder times ahead, 60 percent said it would be a time to hold back.
The CBS poll also revealed how much support the president has for his unmanned drone program, a source of frustration for many liberals.
The policy, begun by the second Bush administration and expanded under Obama, has the support of seven in 10 Americans, including most Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Even if the drones are targeted to kill U.S. citizens living abroad and suspected of killing U.S. citizens, which is an issue that has been a focus of Congress, 49 percent of Americans still favor their use, while 38 percent oppose them.
The public also has much pessimism about the possibility of Washington lawmakers working together to get anything done over the next four years. Just 17 percent of respondents think there will be more cooperation, 22 percent say less, and 58 percent say the level of cooperation will be about the same as it was during the last four years.
The poll questioned 1,148 adults last week.