The latest NBC-WSJ poll covered a wide range of policy issues that confront the country as Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in for his second term as President.

Barack Obama
The new NBC-WSJ poll finds majorities approve of the job he is doing overall (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and have a positive personal image of him (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}). But the poll, conducted January 12-15, also finds the American public more pessimistic about the direction of the country (35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Right Direction – 57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Wrong Track) than just a month ago (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Right Direction – 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Wrong Track in December).

The Economy
Americans see some signs of improvement in the economy overall but 64{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} are “just somewhat” or “not at all” confident that President Obama has the ability to promote a strong and growing national economy. As Peter D. Hart said, “If 2009 was all about hope, 2013 is about the ability to cope.”

Congress and Washington
A majority (51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say they are less optimistic that the economy will get better based on the budget negotiations between the president and Congress and on a wide-ranging list of presidential qualities give the President the lowest marks for working effectively with Congress” and “changing business as usual in Washington.” Congress, meanwhile has a near record low approval rating (14 approve -81 approve).

Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves the post as the country’s top diplomat with 69{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans approving of the job she has done, one of the highest approval ratings of any previous occupant. She also had the highest personal image rating of the several political figures tested, with 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans reporting a positive and 25{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} a negative rating which is not far off from where her image was before taking that office (56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Positive – 29{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Negative in January 2009). Her potential successor, Sen. John Kerry would take up the post with just a 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} positive and 27{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} negative image.

Gun Laws and The NRA
The poll finds that 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans said laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter. As a point of reference, in December 1993, just ahead of passage of the 1994 assault weapons ban, a Gallup survey found that 67{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans wanted stricter laws.

National Rifle Association is seen in a  positive light by about four in 10 Americans, up from 28{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1995.

Nearly three-quarters of people said they put a “great deal” or “good amount” of responsibility for mass-shootings on parents not paying attention to what is happening in their children’s lives, and a nearly equal share faulted the lack of effective treatment for mental illness.

Fully 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of adults favor a proposed immigration reform that would allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States to apply for legal status, This includes 58{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of respondents living in the border states of Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona that are most affected by illegal immigration from Mexico. In the non-boarder states 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} favor such a proposal. While Latinos are among the most supportive of this proposal (76{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Favor – 22{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Oppose), among Whites in the West, 55{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} favor and 43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} oppose the proposal. Among all White adults the proposal is a net negative, opposed by 51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} and favored by 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}.

NBC News / Wall Street Journal — January 12-15, 2013 (PDF Format)

Public Opinion Strategies