Country's Direction: The Most Negative March In Four Years

March 06, 2013, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 3/2/2013) As President Obama faces new budget issues and the steep budget cuts required by sequestration, he finds a public more pessimistic about the state of the country than it has been at this time of the year in the last four years.

In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 61% say the country is heading off on the wrong track, five points more than felt that way in 2010, after the first year of the Obama Presidency, and while the country was still struggling in the middle of recession. That pessimistic percentage has been increasing incrementally each year.

The percentage thinking the country was off on the wrong track had trended down prior to and immediately after the President’s re-election last fall, dropping to just about 50% in November and December. However, as Congress returned and budget squabbles emphasized partisan conflict, the percentage saying the country was on the wrong track rose again.

Americans continue to worry about the economy. Only 24% this week say it is improving. More than a third believes it is getting worse. Those numbers are slightly more negative than they were just a week ago. And as the stock market posts gains despite the sequester, many Americans don’t expect them to last: only 20% think the market will be higher 12 months from now.

Despite the perception of economic weakness, the President’s popularity has not suffered much. The overall opinion of the President in Economist/YouGov polls throughout last fall was closely divided, and that remains the case today. In this week’s poll, 48% approve of the way President Obama is handling his job; 47% disapprove.

The President’s Republican Congressional opposition leaders remain unpopular: more than twice as many Americans view Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unfavorably as see them favorably. The Democratic Congressional leaders are also seen negatively, though Boehner’s numbers are especially lopsided.

Overall, the Congress remains extremely unpopular. Just 10% approve of the way Congress is handling its job.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association