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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Like all addicts, America will have to hit bottom before things get better.
These polls are skewed horribly based on the fact that just over a thousand people participated. CNN wants to say XX% of Americans, but those thousand or so don't represent Americans in their entirety. I would be willing to bet large sums of money that if more than the tiniest percentage of people were questioned the results would be drastically different. How about instead of a thousand people questioned via phone, why don't you guys do 1,000,000 via internet. Then we'll see how people really feel as a whole. But maybe skewed results are the more desirable compared to real results, because people are afraid of the truth.
No duh. I voted for Obama in 2012 and I'm still less optimistic than four years ago.
They re-elected the Golfer in Chief, and then they are less optimistic about the direction the country is headed. PROOF that the majority of people who voted lack sufficient gray matter between the ears to even manage a minimum of critical thinking. They should not be allowed to vote.
1023 adult americans = the whole nation.
Obama lied and our economy died.
Just another Support Obama story, one in a long line for CNN.
All the wards of the state here are ecstatic since the gravy trail rolls on and is getting bigger every day.
wow, both communist and revolution in caps. very impressive, indeed. if you want revolution, pick up your weapon and revolt. otherwise, you are just another internet blowhard.
Way to state the obvious.
We all knew this but the media did their job and hid all the garbage until the resident got reselected by the uneducated masses looking for handouts.
We have to be so grateful that we don't have a Romney/Ryan/Norquist controlled Administration. Obama will get us onto the right track if the Party of "NO" puts the people before their own political careers.
wow, both communist and revolution in caps. very impressive, indeed. your candidate got his magic underwear handed to him, and now you are having a hissy fit.
i am truly speechless. you re-elect the guy and then say you are less optimistic? there are no words to say how foolish this is......we are only a couple weeks out of the election, America did you need to have another couple weeks to figure out you were less optimistic? you truly deserve the future you have wrought on yourself......
Then how in the hell did this dummy get elected? Voter fraud?
who would be optimistic after the last administration put $40,000 debt on each man, woman and child in America?
A president's approval rating is always down for his second term!!!! This "breaking news" isn't even near unexpected
These are the same polls that had him losing the election. Go figure!
The lead picture and caption for this article is hilarious. "Breaking News" "Americans not optimistic" And a picture of Obama applauding. CNN will be sent to liberal prison for that one.
Am I the only one tired of the CNN polls that mean nothing? CNN, THE FRIENDLIER FOX!!!!
NewsFlash – 56% of Americans are idiots.....
Obama Hater, please be silent!!!!
lemme guess..there are going to be people who blame bush for the continued pessimism in the USA...
Americans are worried about the fiscal cliff but have spent their way into the biggest black Friday weekend in history. Go figure.
So Americans are not optimistic but voted to reelect a president whose policies help caused the lack of optimism.