While voter preferences for the midterm elections remain closely divided, Republicans now enjoy advantages among typically loyal voting blocs that wavered in 2006 and are doing better with key swing groups. Americans who intend to vote GOP this fall are also far more engaged in the campaign this year.
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.
Americans are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported TARP, more likely to back one who compromises, and split on health care supporters. Neither party has an advantage on the economy, but the GOP has improved on several issues. Sharp rise in BP criticism over the oil spill.
Congress's ratings are abysmal; Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan draws mixed ratings but half have no opinion.
While an increasing number of Americans cite addressing the government's red ink as a priority, there is not much support for spending cuts, regardless of party.
Strengthening the nation's economy and improving the job situation continue to top nation's priority list. However, shifts have occurred on the priority give to two issues: energy (down) and the budget deficit (up). Extremely large partisan gaps exist on the importance of health care and global warming.
As has been the case since October, roughly half the country approves of President Obama's job. The nation is also divided on Afghanistan and health care. One rare point of agreement, though, is that the economy remains poor.
Polling has found significant support for both tougher enforcement and the so-called "path to citizenship," but several factors suggest that a new push for reform could be a difficult one.
Americans are famous both for being weight conscious, and at the same time unable to come to terms successfully with their bloated waistlines. The same paradox has applied to how the public looks at budget deficits for a very long time.
Centrism has emerged as a dominant factor in public opinion as the Obama administration begins. Republicans and Democrats are even more divided than in the past, while the growing political middle is steadfastly mixed in its beliefs about government, the free market and other values that underlie views on contemporary issues and policies. Both political parties have lost adherents since the election and an increasing number of Americans identify as independents.