Polls show Amer­i­cans are dis­sat­is­fied with the state of things

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Han­nah Finger­hut

WASHINGTON — The tur­bu­lence of im­peach­ment, a con­tentious pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and a global virus health threat con­front Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as he pre­pares to de­liver his State of the Union ad­dress Tues­day night. But one thing about the Trump era has re­mained re­mark­ably steady: public opin­ion on the pres­i­dent.

Ap­proval of Trump has stayed per­sis­tently in neg­a­tive ter­ri­tory, and the coun­try is more po­lar­ized now than it has been un­der any other pres­i­dent in re­cent his­tory. Polls also show Amer­i­cans ex­press­ing sig­nif­i­cant dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the di­rec­tion of the coun­try and even more so with the state of pol­i­tics.

Even with those down­beat num­bers, Amer­i­cans have largely pos­i­tive views of both the econ­omy and how Trump is han­dling it.

Trump is the third pres­i­dent in U.S. his­tory to be im­peached by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate, which is con­duct­ing the trial, nar­rowly re­jected Demo­cratic de­mands Fri­day to sum­mon wit­nesses, all but en­sur­ing Trump’s ac­quit­tal. Fi­nal vot­ing on his fate is sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, on the heels of Trump’s prime-time speech the night be­fore.

Im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings have closely split the public.

In a Jan­uary poll by The As­so­ci­ated Press-NORC

Cen­ter for Public Af­fairs Re­search, slightly more said the Se­nate should vote to con­vict Trump and re­move him from of­fice than said it should not, 45% to 40%. An ad­di­tional 14% of those ques­tioned said they did not know enough to have an opin­ion.

In the sur­vey, 42% of Amer­i­cans said they thought Trump did some­thing il­le­gal in his July 25 phone call with the pres­i­dent of Ukraine, Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy, and an ad­di­tional 32% said he did some­thing un­eth­i­cal.

Still, the pres­i­dent has con­sis­tently been lifted by Amer­i­cans’ as­sess­ment of his han­dling of the econ­omy, which boasts a 3.5% un­em­ploy­ment rate and steady job growth.

Just as Trump will out­line his goals for the re­main­der of his term on Tues­day night, Amer­i­cans have their own idea of what should be a pri­or­ity this year.

An AP-NORC poll in De­cem­ber found Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied in an open-ended ques­tion the econ­omy, health care, im­mi­gra­tion and the en­vi­ron­ment as top is­sues for the gov­ern­ment to ad­dress in 2020.

Few ex­pected the gov­ern­ment to make progress on the is­sues most im­por­tant to them.

In the same poll, about 2 in 10 Amer­i­cans said they were sat­is­fied with the way things are go­ing in the coun­try to­day. Nearly 6 in 10 were dis­sat­is­fied. Look­ing ahead, more ex­pected things would get worse, not bet­ter.

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