Just 22 percent of Americans think things are generally going in the right direction, while 74 percent think the country is seriously on the wrong track. Fully 80 percent of Americans describe themselves as "dissatisfied" or "angry" about the way the federal government works, with the nearly one-third of Americans who say they are angry being a record in this survey. Only 10 percent think the economy is in good shape, with 47 percent describing it as "poor."
It all adds up to what the Washington Post calls in a front-page story, "the most difficult reelection environment of any White House incumbent in two decades."
Obama, however, retains a core of support that makes his defeat something less-than-inevitable. He runs neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, among registered voters in the poll, trailing by a single point, 47 percent to 46 percent. Against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Obama leads, 51 percent to 43 percent. And against beleaguered businessman Herman Cain, Obama leads, 50 percent to 45 percent; the poll was conducted as allegations of sexual harassment emerged against the former head of the National Restaurant Association.
Despite those matchup numbers, Obama still faces significant headwinds: Forty-four percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 53 percent disapprove. On the economy, just 38 percent of Americans approve of Obama's job performance; the president has been below 40 percent on that measure since early in the summer.
The poll was conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 3, surveying 1,004 adults. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent. For the subsample of registered voters -- for the presidential head-to-head matchups -- there were 849 registered voters. Those results carry a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.