CAPS - Harris Poll on the State of the Union

February 22, 2018

The February 2018 poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll shows a rise in Presidential approval to 45% after the State of the Union address.

The February 2018 poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll looks at public opinion on the state of the country and the President’s policy proposals following the State of the Union Address. The poll features topical deep dives on immigration, the Special Counsel's Russia probe, the "Me Too" movement, and gun control.

American optimism in the direction of the country continues its upward trend, matching the highest level since Trump took office. While 37% of Americans say the country is on the right track, matching the previous high in March 2017, 54% say the country is on the wrong track, with 9% unsure. Nearly half (48%) believe the US economy is on the right track, 39% say the economy is on the wrong track, with 13% unsure.

Americans perception of the strength of the economy, as well as their personal financial situation has improved since last month. Seventy percent say the economy is "strong" or "very strong" and 36% believe their personal financial situation is improving -- both figures represent all-time highs over the past year.

President Trump's State of the Union address was met with majority approval. Among those familiar with the address, over half (52%) approved and 40% disapproved, with 8% reserving opinion. Following the speech, the President's job approval rating -- after hovering just over 40% over the past four months -- rose to 45%. The President continues to be given credit on his handling of stimulating jobs (57% approve), the economy (56%), and fighting terrorism (54%); but received less than majority approval on immigration (47%), foreign affairs (44%), and administering the government (42%).

On Immigration, generally all parties continue to favor a path to citizenship for "Dreamers." Majorities favor giving dreamers work permits among GOP (64%), DEM (90%), and IND (77%), over not giving them work permits. Similarly, majorities prefer giving dreamers a path to citizenship (GOP: 63%, DEM: 88%, IND: 74%) over forcing dreamers to return home first.

On gun control, Americans are split on what would do most to curb school shootings. Some say banning assault rifles would do the most to curb shootings (36%), 32% say enhanced school security would do the most, while 32% say an increased commitment to mental health issues would do the most.

A majority of Americans believe semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 should be banned outright (61%), while 39% believe adults who pass background checks should still be allowed to purchase the weapons. Demographically, younger Americans (aged 18-34) are the least likely to support an outright ban (55%). Support for an outright ban increases with age (35-49: 58%, 50-64: 63%, 65+: 65%).

Lastly, on sexual harassment, Americans are somewhat more likely to have a favorable impression of the "Me Too" movement (55% favorable; 45% unfavorable). Among women, 57% have a favorable impression of the movement. Although a large majority of Americans believe those accused of sexual harassment should be afforded the same legal protections as those accused of other crimes (77%), there is also majority support (60%) for tougher new legislation on violence against women. Most would also like to see president do and say more on the issues of violence against women (68%). Even nearly half (48%) of GOP voters believe so.

For more information on the February poll, go to the CAPS/Harris Poll website for detailed results, and please visit The Hill ( for first look analysis of all polls.

The CAPS/Harris Poll website will be updated throughout the week with more information about the poll.



The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll online within the United States between February 16 -19, 2018, among 1,934 registered voters.

The results reflect a nationally representative sample. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The poll was supervised by Harvard Professor of Government and CAPS Faculty Director Stephen Ansolabehere, Mark Penn, and Dritan Nesho. Stephen Ansolabehere has 25 years’ experience conducting survey research and experimental research in the field of political science. Mark Penn is a former presidential pollster and has 40 years of polling experience. Dritan Nesho is a fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and has over 11 years of polling and data analytics experience.

Harvard Law School Professor Jacob Gerson, and Assistant Professor of Government, Jon Rogowski, contributed to this month’s CAPS-Harris Poll.

Harris Insights and Analytics conduct the poll based on online methodologies they have been using for more than a decade and the results are donated to the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University.

The results are represented as the results of the questions asked according to The Harris Poll methodology.