Political Report, January 2012

Chuck Kennedy/White House

President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011.

Political Report, January 2012

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In January's American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Political Report, senior fellow and public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman along with researchers Andrew Rugg and Jennifer Marsico examines American public opinion on a variety of topics now in the news:

Americans are feeling a little better about the nation’s economy. Still, 58 percent (down from 65 percent a year ago) say they know someone other than a family member who has lost a job in the past six months.

The proportion satisfied with the way things are going in the country is low (18 percent). So, too, is the proportion who believe the country is on the right track (39 percent).                

Americans are bullish on their personal fortunes despite misgivings about the country. Seventy-eight percent are optimistic about what the next year will bring for them and their families. Three-quarters say they are happy.  

More Americans call themselves conservative (40 percent) than moderate (35 percent) or liberal (21 percent). Politically, the country is split down the middle (45 percent say they are Democrats or lean to the party, and 45 percent Republicans).

Past presidents who sought reelection and won (Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and G.W. Bush) gave upbeat, forward-looking State of the Union addresses in their election years and had generally solid ratings.  

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow, Jennifer Marsico is a senior research associate and Andrew Rugg is a research assistant at AEI

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