While an overwhelming number of Americans deem the deficit a major problem that must be dealt with now, few are willing to support specific proposals to address the issue. On dealing with the deficit, Obama has more credibility than Republican congressional leaders.
Fully 80% say it is very important for Congress to pass legislation to address the job situation; nearly half of public disapproves of challenge to Arizona's immigration law and health care legislation.
Media coverage of the health care debate followed a roller coaster trajectory, spiking dramatically at times and plunging at other points. The media focused far more on the politics of health care than the system or plans for reform.
New "conscience protection" cases have emerged in the health care area expanding the debate beyond abortion and birth control to discrimination protection for certain groups, notably gays and lesbians.
Americans don't favor the current health care reform legislation, but most opponents prefer a new bill to no bill and more see their health care costs rising without reform than with it. Nearly everyone gives the national economy a negative rating; 70% of Americans say they have faced one or more job or financial-related problems in the past year
Opinions of the Republican Party have improved significantly but still far more people blame the GOP for the poor economy than blame the Democrats. Anti-incumbent sentiment runs high: three-in-ten don't want to see their current representative reelected. Financial institutions remain a major target of public anger.
A third of Millennials lack health care insurance, and their support for health care reform exceeds that of older generations, but they have tuned out of the debate in Washington.
In the latest Pew Research News IQ Quiz, Americans answered on average fewer than six out of 12 questions correctly. The public struggled with most of the political questions, and despite expressing strong interest in the health care debate, few know how many votes it takes to break a filibuster or how many GOP votes the bill got in the Senate.
The government's ratings for reducing the threat of terrorism have slipped, and Americans are increasingly more concerned with safety than civil liberties. Domestically, few see an upside to health care reform, and the national mood remains grim. Yet President Obama's political standing is little affected, and his personal image remains positive.