The increasing pessimism can likely be attributed to the disappointing jobs report released last Friday that showed the economy had added just 69,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent.

Fears about the economy are likely to reverberate into the presidential election. On the campaign trail, Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been hammering President Obama over the economy.

Obama on Friday said his team knew the path to recovery "wouldn't be easy."

"The economy is growing again, but it's not growing as fast as we want it to grow," he said in a speech in Golden Valley, Minn. "We've got a lot of work to do until we get to where we need to be."

Romney, meanwhile, called the jobs report a "harsh indictment" of Obama's presidency.

"The president's policies and his handling of the economy has been dealt a harsh indictment this morning," Romney said during an interview on CNBC.

"Their policies have not worked, and in many respects their policies have made it harder for the economy to recover. And I think that's why people are looking for a new direction," he added.

The Economist poll showed that economic sentiment was tied to partisan political beliefs. Nearly half of liberals believe the economy is getting better, and more than half say the worst of the economic trouble is in the past. That far exceeds national and conservative attitudes, where majorities believe the economy is souring and the worst is yet to come.