Two national opinion polls released over the last two days reflect a deeply frustrated and pessimistic American public. The new NBC/WSJ survey, which tracks President Obama's approval to an all-time low in the series (40/54) and shows a slight Republican edge heading into November's elections, is bursting at the seams with negativity:
(1) Right track/Wrong track is at an abysmal (22/71).
(2) By a 22-point margin, Americans say the country is in a state of decline. On the question of whether people believe that "life for our children's generation will be than it has been for us," respondents said they are "not confident" on that score by nearly a four-to-one margin.
(3) This whole chart:
(4) On another 'satisfaction' issue set, respondents gave negative marks to the US government's handling of a series of international crises. The most acute dissatisfaction was expressed over the border crisis, with featured a 53-point thumbs-down margin. A majority of Americans said they agreed that, "we do not have the resources to deal with the thousands of children who have entered the country illegally and they should be returned immediately."
A fresh Associated Press poll is just as bleak on virtually every count. Obama's approval is upside down (40/59) overall, and underwater on every single issue polled. He's in the 30's on many of them. His best number is on handling relationships with other countries, at (43/55). Voters split evenly between preferring Republicans or Democrats to control Congress after the elections. Fully one-third of respondents said it doesn't matter either way. Republicans held a "trust" edge on seven of the eight specific issues polled. Noah Rothman's conclusion upon surveying these numbers: "These are awful numbers for incumbent Democrats heading into the fall. And we haven’t even started applying likely voter screens yet." True, but I suspect Pete Wehner's take is more lasting in its relevance:
Whatever the causes–and there are many of them–it can’t be good when there’s such massive dissatisfaction with our political system. For one thing, we have urgent challenges that require a political system that works, that people have confidence in. Beyond that, though, our political system–the extraordinary handiwork of our founding generation–produced what Lincoln called an “inestimable jewel.” It is one of the main reasons we revere our country. Sustained contempt for our political system is corrosive. It undermines our affections for America. And unless it is reversed, it will find increasingly disturbing outlets and end up doing durable damage to the nation we love.
America is in the grips of a crisis of confidence, and most people don't see a light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.