A 44 percent approval rating is nothing to shout about -- unless, of course, it's up from a 36 percent approval rating the year before. Those are the exact numbers President Obama is facing, according to a recent Harris Poll that says fewer than half of those polled think America's chief executive is doing a good job.
It's important to note that this survey was conducted before President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, but there are some interesting geographic differences in the president's job ratings. Easterners and Southerners are the most differing in their views, with those in the East being split down the middle, as half give him positive ratings and half give him negative marks. Southerners, on the other hand, are still most negative, as 60 percent give the president negative ratings.
There is also an educational difference with 61 percent of those with a high school or less education giving the president negative marks on his job, while 62 percent of those with a post-graduate degree give him positive ratings.
But Congress -- which perhaps you could call the nation's management staff -- does even worse than the president when it comes to approval ratings. Last month, 11 percent of those polled gave Congress positive ratings while 89 percent gave Congress negative marks. This month, 16 percent of Americans give Congress positive ratings and 84 percent give them negative ones; the uptick could be due to the newly sworn in members of Congress.
Interestingly, Republicans may now have control of one Chamber, but that isn't positively affecting Republicans' views. Just 8 percent of Republicans give Congress positive ratings compared to 10 percent of Independents and 25 percent of Democrats.
When it comes to the issues that the government needs to address, over one-third of Americans (35 percent) say health care, the first time this has popped to the top of the list in months. However, the rest of the top five all make it clear one thing is still on the minds of Americans -- the economy. On the list of the most important issues, after health care is employment / jobs (33 percent), the economy (24 percent), budget / government spending issues (13 percent), and national debt / deficit (12 percent).
It may sound hard to believe, but President Obama is now at his highest approval ratings since October 2009, and even Congress is at their "highest" point since April 201. Some experts say this positive movement could be a sign that a national recovery is gaining a foothold.