For the first time in a long time, nearly half of Americans express positive opinions about the situation in Iraq and judgments about the overall situation in Iraq have been improving steadily since the summer.
A year before the 2008 presidential election, most major national opinion trends decidedly favor the Democrats and discontent with the state of the nation is markedly greater than it was four years ago. Also, Republicans have become less likely to say that their party is doing a good job standing up for its traditional positions.
Though much courted by GOP candidates, the impact of this voting bloc on the presidential nominating process remains unclear.
Public assessments of the nation's economy have fallen to a two-year low. Faced with a steady stream of negative news about the housing market, Americans are substantially less inclined than they were even a few months ago to say they expect home prices to rise over the next few years.
The public is ambivalent about the immigration bill being debated in the Senate, but a majority favors one of its key goals - providing a way for illegal aliens to become citizens. The public supports such a provision even when it is described as "amnesty," a new Pew survey finds.
As the Democratic-led Congress approaches the 100-day mark, pluralities approve of House Speaker Pelosi's and Senate Majority Leader Reid's leadership. But Democrats get mixed reviews on campaign promises and policies and proposals.
Two-thirds of the public now says that the U.S. military effort in Iraq is not going well, reflecting a sharp increase in the last year. And most say the country is also losing ground in problem areas from the federal budget to corruption to the environment.
It's too soon to know how far the new Congress might go in accepting the president's State of the Union proposals on health care, energy, immigration and education, but states aren't waiting to find out - they've taken the lead on these domestic issues.
A large majority of the American public thinks the country is more politically polarized than in the past, and an even greater number expresses a strong desire for political compromise. Fully three-quarters say they like political leaders who are willing to compromise, compared with 21% who see this as a negative trait.