Impressions of US direction improved, but divided by partisanship

President Obama lashes out at Rep. Issa
President Obama lashes out at Rep. Issa


    President Obama lashes out at Rep. Issa


President Obama lashes out at Rep. Issa 02:04

Story highlights

  • 54% to 46% say things in the country are going well compared to badly
  • That's a reversal from late July

(CNN)More Americans than at any time in Barack Obama's presidency now say that things in the United States are going well, a sharp uptick in positive views and the best reviews of the country's trajectory since January 2007, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll.

Overall, 54% say things in the country today are going well, 46% badly. That's a reversal from late July when 54% said things were going poorly and 46% said they were positive.
The improvement in impressions of the country's path stems largely from shifts among Democrats and independents. Among Democrats, 85% say things are going well, up from 76% in late July. Among independents, 51% now say things are going well, up 9 points since this summer. There's been no significant shift, however, among Republicans: 21% now say things are going well, not significantly different from the 17% who said so in July.
    There's also a stark divide between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. More than 8-in-10 of those behind Trump, whose campaign slogan suggests America has gone off on the wrong track, say things in the US today are going poorly. Among Clinton's supporters, almost 9-in-10 say they're going well.
    The new poll also finds Obama's approval rating holding at 55%, matching the high-point for the President's second term reached earlier in October. Voters behind Trump and Clinton are sharply polarized in their reviews of Obama's handling of the presidency, with 93% of Clinton's supporters saying they approve of Obama while 91% of Trump's backers disapprove.
    About 7-in-10 voters say that if Clinton is elected, they think she will mostly carry out Obama's policies, 27% think she'll go in a different direction. But most of those who say she'll follow Obama's lead consider that to be a bad thing: 40% see it as a negative that she'll pursue Obama's policies, 28% say it's a positive. That tilt stems mostly from the fact that about 8-in-10 who back Trump say Clinton will follow Obama's policies (84%) and add that it's a bad move (82% say that). Her own supporters are split on whether she'll continue in Obama's direction (57%) or head another way (40%).
    Obama's approval rating now outpaces Ronald Reagan's 51% approval rating at this time in 1988 and is nearly on par with Bill Clinton's 57% mark in October 2000. The positive reviews for Obama and the direction the country's heading suggest a positive electoral environment for Democrats heading in to the elections next month.
    Voter preferences in terms of a generic congressional ballot back that up. The poll finds that a generic Democratic candidate for House holds a narrow three-point edge over the Republican among likely voters, a shift since early September, when the Republican inched out the Democrat, 49% to 47%. Democrats have advantages among their traditional core backers on this question, with women, younger voters and non-whites breaking sharply in their favor.
    But, one group that appears to have shifted toward Clinton in this year's presidential politics hasn't shifted the same way on the generic congressional: Whites with college degrees are almost evenly split when it comes to congressional politics, with 50% saying they favor the Republican candidate in their district and 49% backing the Democrat.
    Overall, only 44% of registered voters say their own member of congress deserves to be re-elected. That figure is the lowest in CNN/ORC polling back to fall 2006 -- a window in which the House has changed hands twice. Just 29% say "most members of Congress" deserve re-election, a touch higher than the share saying so at recent low-points in congressional approval during the 2013 partial government shutdown and 2011 near-shutdown (August 2011 and October 2013). Compared to this point just before the 2008 election, both figures are down significantly. In the weeks leading up to that election, 55% said their own member deserved re-election and 37% thought most members did.
    The Democratic Party has one other advantage over the Republicans, according to the poll, it is more well-liked. While the Democrats' image isn't exactly positive (45% of Americans have a favorable view, 45% unfavorable), it's in far better shape than that of the Republican Party (36% favorable to 53% unfavorable).
    The open animosity between Trump and some Republican members of Congress has carried through to his supporters. A majority of Trump's backers say that if elected, he'll pursue policies that are different from those of the GOP leadership in Congress and that it will be a good thing for him to do.
    Few voters generally expect a Trump presidency to hew to the party line: 71% of voters say that if Trump is elected, they expect different policies from those of the GOP leadership in Congress. About 4-in-10 consider that a bad thing, while 28% say a departure from the party line is a positive.
    The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone October 20-23 among a random national sample of 1,017 adults, including 916 registered voters. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample and among registered voters is plus or minus 3 percentage points.