As another presidential election year approaches, the political and economic landscape has changed in a number of ways since four years ago. The public’s mood was not very good, but still a lot better than it is today.
Negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has been tracking since 1985.
For the first time in his presidency, significantly more Americans disapprove than approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president and and the margin of strong disapproval over strong approval has widened. But the public is also profoundly discontented with the political leadership of both parties, angry at the federal government and dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country.
More Americans now think that members of Congress who support the Tea Party are having a negative effect than said that in January, at the start of the new Congress.
Americans have more confidence in President Obama than other key players to do the right thing on the debt issue, but that amounts to only about half of the public. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gets the lowest vote of confidence, although that is partly because he is less well-known.
Americans' are less discontent with the federal government but no more ready for political compromise. Views of Congress remain heavily negative, while Obama's ratings stay positive. On social issues, the public is, for the first time, evenly split on gay marriage, while support for legal abortion, legalized marijuana -- but not gun control -- have all risen.
Views of the Patriot Act have changed little since the Bush administration, with slightly more Americans currently saying it is a necessary security tool rather than a threat to civil liberties. Democrats are now somewhat more supportive of the law.