LOS ANGELES TIMES POLL : Mood of the Nation : As President Clinton prepares to give his State of the Union Address, the Los Angeles Times Poll takes a look at how Americans view him and the issues of the day.

A Majority Critical of Nation’s Direction

Of those Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track, crime and family breakdown are the reasons they cite most often.

Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or are they seriously off on the wrong track?

Right direction: 35%


Wrong track: 55%

Don’t know: 10%

Why do you say things in this country are going in the right direction? (top five responses, up to two answers accepted)

GOP Congress: 19%


More jobs available: 18%

Country getting out of recession: 17%

Clinton Administration: 10%

Economy: 5%


Why do you say things in this country are going in the wring direction? (top five responses, up to two answers accepted)

Crime: 21%

Family breakdown/no morality: 20%

No jobs: 11%


Clinton Admin.: 7%

GOP Congress: 7%

The Trust Factor: Clinton and Congress

The public remains skeptical of the federal government, and many still doubt Clinton or the Republicans in Congress are bringing real change to Washington.


How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right?

Always: 1%

Most of the time: 18%

Some of the time: 60%


Hardly ever: 21%

The Republicans now control both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 year. Because of that, do you expect the country to be better off, worse off or not much changed either way.?

Better off: 32%

Worse off: 18%


No change either way: 39%

Too early to tell: 6%

Don’t know: 5%

Do you think Bill Clinton is working hard to bring fundamental change to the way government is run, or is he governing in a “business as usual” manner?


Bring change: 49%

Business as usual: 45%

Don’t know: 6%

Do you think the Republicans in Congress are working hard to bring fundamental change to the way government is run, or are they governing in a “business as usual” manner?


Bring change: 41%

Business as usual: 47%

Don’t know: 12%

When dealing with Republican Congress, do you think President Clinton should compromise to get things done even if he has to sacrifice some of his beliefs, or should Clinton stand up for his beliefs even if that means less might be accomplished?


Compromise: 56%

Stand up for beliefs: 38%

Don’t know: 6%

Who do you think has the better ideas for how to help solve the problems this country currently faces?


Clinton: 31%

Republicans in Congress: 35%

Both equally: 7%

Neither: 14%


Don’t know: 13%

At Midway Point, Clinton Approval RAtings Rising

President Clinton’s approval rating is better than those of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter at the same point in their White House terms.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job as President?


Jan. ’95:

Approve: 54%

Disapprove: 40%

Approval Ratings at Midterm



Approve: 67%

Disapprove: 27%

Don’t know: 6%



Reagan (first term)*:

Approve: 37%

Disapprove: 54%


Don’t know: 9%



Approve: 43%


Disapprove: 41%

Don’t know: 16%

Favorable Ratings

Clinton: 54%


Hillary Clinton: 47%

Bob Dole: 41%

Newt Gingrich: 26%

Serious Doubts Over GOP’s Contract


A majority believes the GOP agenda for change is not realistic, and 53% oppose a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

Do you think the “contract with America” is a realistic set of goals?

Realistic: 31%

Unrealistic: 54%


Some realistic, some not: 4%

Don’t know: 11%

Congress is considering a proposal for a constitutional amendment to require that the federal budget be balanced by the year 2002. Those in favor say this is the only way to force the government to bring the federal budget under control. Those opposed say it would require increased taxes and cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. Do you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget?

Favor: 40%


Oppose: 53%

Don’t know: 7%

HOW THE POLL WAS CONDUCTED: The Times Poll interviewed 1,353 adults nationwide, by telephone, Jan. 19 through 22. Telephone numbers were chosen from a list of all exchanges in the nation. Random-digit dialing techniques were used so that listed and non-listed numbers could be contacted. Interviewing was conducted in English and Spanish. The sample was weighted slightly to conform with census figures for sex, race, age and education. The margin of sampling error for the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Selected questions were asked of a half sample of approximately 675; these carry a sampling error margin of 4 points. For certain other sub-groups the error margin may be somewhat higher. Poll results can also be affected by other factors such as question wording and the order in which questions are presented.