Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans give President Barack Obama a thumbs up on the job he's doing in office, but according to a new national poll they are less optimistic about the country's future than they were four years ago when Obama won the White House for the first time.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Monday indicates that 56% of the public thinks the country will be better off four years from now, with four in ten saying it will be worse than they are now.
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"The 56% figure's not bad, but it's way down from the 76% who felt that way in late 2008 after Barack Obama had won his first presidential bid," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Four years ago, as Obama took office, the nation’s economy was in a free-fall. Economic conditions have obviously improved from those days, with the country currently in a slow recovery.
Forty-three percent say things are going well in the country right now, virtually unchanged from just before the election, with 57% saying things are going badly.
The survey also indicates that 54% say they are enthusiastic or optimistic about the president's second term, with 44% pessimistic or afraid. The 54% figure is a bit less than the 58% who felt that way about President George W. Bush's second tour of duty in November of 2004.
Fifty-two percent approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, with 43% saying they disapprove. Obama's approval rating is virtually unchanged from his pre-election approval rating of 51%. And it's changed little this year: Since February the president's approval rating ranged between 49% and 52% in CNN polling.
"The generation gap that was evident in presidential vote still remains, but the gender gap has vanished, at least temporarily," Holland said. "President Obama's approval rating is 58% among younger Americans, but a majority of older Americans disapprove of Obama. But Obama's approval rating among men and women is exactly the same - 52% among men, 52% among women."
Will a first term under his belt make Obama a better president?
Fifty-three percent say the president's experience from his first four years in the White House will make him a better president over the next four years, with 13% saying it will make him a worse president and one in three saying it will make no difference.
According to the poll, 58% have confidence that Obama will make good choices to replace Cabinet members who leave his administration, although two possible replacements for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, are not nearly as popular or well known as Clinton.
The election returns did not appear to change public opinion of Obama, with his favorable rating now at 56%, but Mitt Romney's favorable rating has tumbled to 43%, possibly a response to the Republican presidential nominee's remarks last week that he lost the election because Obama offered "gifts" to African-Americans, Hispanics, and young voters. Romney's favorable rating dropped six points to 43%, with his unfavorable rating edging up to 50%.
One other finding from the survey: Fifty-one percent oppose the new national health care law, with 42% saying they favor the measure, known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and nicknamed by many as "Obamacare." But only 37% oppose the 2010 law, passed by a Democratic controlled Congress and signed into law by Obama, because it is too liberal, with 9% opposing the law because it's not liberal enough.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 16-18, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
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The majority don't want obama care, yet they re-elected a failed president with a dismal record. Obama isn't the problem...We are !!
How is this news? When are we ever optimistic about anything? Liberal or conservative, people will complain about anything all the time
We aren't quite so optimistic now, because we've experienced what can happen when an extremist faction, aka T-Party, decides to hold progress hostage w/obstruction & gridlock! If all those politicians who now declare that they "love their country more than a tax pledge," had made such statements 2 years ago, we'd be much further in our economic progress! I'd say we'd have a workable budget now & would not have had our credit rating downgraded! It's been a very stressful 4 years for the American people, to not only lose jobs & homes due to last administrations irresponibility, but then to watch as congress throws us all under the bus over the 1% taxcuts! I'm just a layperson & lean liberal, but I'm very conservative & frugal when it comes to finances! I think congress is missing opportunities to streamline national coffers, by concentrating soley on tax, ent.itlements & military budgets! There is alot of "pork" in many departments & many which can be compilated or eliminated! Time to Clean House!!
If the American people are less optimistic now than they were four years ago then it only shows how stupid they were to reelect this clown.
Can we give negative polls a break? President Obama won!!!! Let's start polls again during the next midterm election. Let's move FORWARD!!!!
Most of the polls are phoney and that is why we have been in endless wars practically since WW II, the reason we are bankrupt -lack of free press. What we have is Imperial Press spewing propaganda that has done our country a lot of harm , brainwashed the American people. If we had a free press, we would not be bankrupt, Congress would be forced to end the Federal Reserve which engineered all "slumps", thruth would be known about a lot of things like as to why Kennedy was killed. There would be no 9/11 or a least the truth would be known. Due to all the media lieing people's brains have become a kaleidoscope of contradictory nonsense, a permanent state of uncertainty in a time of permanent Alarm – phoney War On Terror, phoney War On Drugs , Phoney War On Poverty-all with bad results. Is it not enough to be upset and become pessimistic because all the people in Washington seem to do is a permanent CIRCUS-nothing seems to get solved, jobs got offshored,people lost jobs and homes, most lost on their 401 Ks many have no healthcare. What is there to be optimistic about ?