Poll position: Where does Obama stand?
Approval rating at 49%
It's arguably the most important poll number for any president: his approval rating.
As President Barack Obama gets ready to give the first State of the Union address of his second term, his approval rating stands at 49 percent, with 44 percent saying they disapprove of his performance in the White House, according to a new CNN Poll of Polls, which averages the latest national surveys.
Here's where the president stands as he prepares to lay out his second-term agenda:
Obama vs. Obama
The president's 49 percent-44 percent approval/disapproval rating is down just a bit from a 52 percent-43 percent approval/disapproval numbers in a CNN Poll of Polls in mid-January, just before his second inauguration.
"Historically speaking, it's not a surprise for a second-term president to lose a couple of points in the aftermath of his second inauguration," CNN polling director Keating Holland said.
Obama vs. predecessors
How does Obama stack up against the most recent two-term presidents as they gave the first State of the Union address of their second term? George W. Bush stood at 51 percent in January 2005 and Bill Clinton was at 62 percent in January 1997, according to CNN/Gallup/USA Today polling.
Ronald Reagan had a 64 percent approval rating in January 1985 and two-thirds of Americans approved of Richard Nixon in January 1973, according to Gallup surveys. Nixon's high rating came just as he announced the end to the Vietnam War.
Obama vs. Congress
While the president's approval rating is down slightly from last month and is lower than his immediate predecessors at the start of their second terms, his numbers are still far above both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
According to a Quinnipiac University national poll conducted earlier this month, 33 percent approved of the job Democrats in Congress were doing. While that doesn't look very good, it's better than congressional Republicans -- their approval rating in the survey stood at 19 percent.
Priorities, priorities, priorities
So what do Americans want to hear from the president in his State of the Union address? According to that same Quinnipiac poll, 35 percent said Obama should focus on the economy, with 20 percent saying the federal budget deficit is most important to them.
Gun policy came in third at 15 percent, followed by health care at 12 percent, foreign policy and immigration each at 5 percent and the environment at 3 percent.
As for the top concern, 53 percent of those questioned said the economy is still in a recession, even though the recession technically ended 3½ years ago.
Who will be watching?
Two-thirds of those surveyed in the Quinnipiac poll said they were very or somewhat likely to watch the State of the Union -- that includes 86 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans.
Besides the expected partisan divide, there's a slight gender gap, with 71 percent of women and 59 percent of men saying they are very or somewhat likely to watch the prime-time speech.
The new CNN Poll of Polls, compiled and released on Monday, averages the three nonpartisan, live-operator national surveys conducted in the past two weeks: Gallup's daily tracking poll (from Feb. 8 to 10); Fox News (Feb. 4 to 6), and Quinnipiac University (Jan. 30 to Feb. 4). Since the Poll of Polls is an average of multiple surveys, it does not have a sampling error.