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Story highlights

President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign pledge to bring change hasn't panned out successfully in the eyes of many of his constituents

Americans are divided in their views of Obama generally

CNN —  

Heading into the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the American public is divided on whether he’s brought positive or negative change to the United States, and expresses broad dissatisfaction with government and anger about the way things are going in the nation generally.

According to a new CNN/ORC Poll, 75% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and 69% are at least somewhat angry with the way things are going in the U.S., both metrics about as negative as they were in fall 2014.

While majorities across party lines express dissatisfaction and anger, Republicans are most likely to feel that way. And both sentiments are particularly strong among those Republicans who back Donald Trump in the GOP race for the nomination. Overall, 90% of Republicans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and 82% express anger with the way things are going in the U.S. today. Among Trump backers, 97% are dissatisfied with government, 91% at least somewhat angry.

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Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to bring change hasn’t panned out successfully in the eyes of many of his constituents. Overall, 37% say Obama has brought positive change to the country, but an equal share say he’s changed things for the worse. Another 21% say he hasn’t changed anything. Among Democrats, 67% say Obama has brought positive change, while Republicans mostly lean the other way, with 63% saying he’s changed the country for the worse.

Americans are divided in their views of Obama generally: 48% have a favorable opinion of him, 50% an unfavorable one. According to CNN/ORC Poll results from the same survey that were released on Monday, his overall job approval rating tilts negative, 52% disapprove while 47% approve. But on the issue that dominated the 2008 election campaign which brought Obama to the White House – the economy – the president scores his highest marks and the public remains optimistic.

A narrow majority – 52% – approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, an uptick since last month. Obama last reached majority approval on the economy in June of this year. Before that, he hadn’t topped the 50% mark since 2009. Those figures seem bolstered more by optimism than positive impressions of current economic conditions. Overall, 49% say the economy is in good shape, 51% doing poorly. But more, 56%, say they expect things to be in good shape a year from now.

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This shift in ratings on the economy comes as gas prices have dipped to their lowest levels since the first months of Obama’s presidency, a measure that correlates well with the public’s impressions of the national economy, and after positive economic news led the Federal Reserve to announce the first increase to its key interest rate in nearly a decade.

Obama has also seen a positive shift in reviews of his handling of climate change in the new poll, up 4 points to 49% approval following the landmark global climate agreement reached in Paris earlier this month.

But on gun control, an issue where Obama has said he would like to do more, Obama earns broadly negative marks. Overall, 62% disapprove of his handling of that issue, 35% approve. Americans tilt against stricter gun control laws, however, with 51% opposed to them, 48% in favor. Americans are split on whether Obama has done enough to change the nation’s gun laws. Overall, 39% say he’s gone too far, 38% not far enough, and 20% that he’s done about the right amount. Gun owners are especially likely to think Obama has gone too far (53% say so), while among those who do not live in a gun-owning household, 52% say he has not gone far enough to change the nation’s gun laws.

FULL RESULTS: CNN/ORC poll on views of government

Further east on Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress ends the year with mostly disapproving marks, just 14% approve of the legislative body, and 85% disapprove. That’s down from 21% approving in February, and about on par with the approval ratings Congress held last fall just before the midterm elections saw the GOP take control of the Senate. Among Republicans, just 12% approve of the way Congress is handling its job, down from 33% who approved in February.

The new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is viewed favorably by 45% of Americans, unfavorably by 34%. That’s a shift toward the positive since just before his election as Speaker. In October, 37% had a positive impression of the congressman from Wisconsin, 31% an unfavorable view. That uptick comes mostly among Democrats (from 15% favorable to 34% now) and independents (from 37% favorable to 45% now).

The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 17-21 among a random national sample of 1,018 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.