Poll shows majority blame Washington for nation's economic struggles

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Even amid an improving economy, a majority of Americans are feeling uneasy about the future for their children and they blame Washington’s dysfunction for failing to put the nation on the right track.

Despite solid jobs gains and a pickup in economic growth, a record-high number — 76 percent — said they don’t feel confident that their children's lives will better than theirs, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed on Wednesday.

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Some 71 percent say the country is on the wrong track, a jump of 8 points from June’s survey.

Meanwhile, 60 percent say the nation is in a state of decline.

A majority — 71 percent — say the economic problems facing the United States are mostly due to the inability of Washington’s elected officials to take action that would accelerate growth.

"The American public is telling its elected representatives that the economic distress that a significant proportion of them are feeling is directly their fault," Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducts the Journal poll with Republican Bill McInturff, told the newspaper.

"The public seems to have moved beyond the plaintive cry of 'feel our pain' to the more angry pronouncement of 'you are causing our pain.'"

All told, 79 percent expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the U.S. political system, while only 19 percent said they are satisfied, in the poll of 1,000 adults.

Still, while some views on the economy remain negative, they have shown gradual improvement since the recession started in late 2007 and the financial crisis hit in September 2008.

Overall, 64 percent say they are dissatisfied with the economy, a figure that has been slowly dropping, while 35 percent say that they are satisfied with the state of the economy, a figure that has been gradually rising since hitting a trough during the 2008 financial crisis.

While about 50 percent said the economy is improving, 49 percent think the nation is still in a recession, down from 58 percent a year ago and 77 percent in 2008. The recession ended in June 2009. 

The poll underscores the difficulty that President Obama and congressional Democrats are having in rounding up support ahead of the midterm elections with the Senate majority at stake for Democrats, even as the economy shows broad-based signs of improvement.

In the latest poll, Obama’s approval rating dropped to 40 percent, from 41 percent in June.

The president’s disapproval rating hit a previous all-time high of 54 percent.

Meanwhile, 60 percent don’t like how Obama is handling foreign policy, while only 36 percent approve, his worst-ever showing.

In a separate question, 62 percent say they aren’t happy with America’s role in the world, as crises rage in Ukraine and the Middle East.  

But congressional Republicans posted worse results, with 54 percent of those asked expressing negative views of the party and 19 percent expressing a positive feeling.

Democrats in Congress fared better, with 46 percent of respondents saying they view them unfavorably and 31 percent seeing them favorably.

With negative views of Congress abounding, a plurality said they plan to vote this fall to knock out incumbents in both parties and send fresh faces and ideas to Washington.

Overall, the poll showed that 64 percent say they are still feeling some effects of the recession, a drop from 71 percent who said that more than six years ago.

To that end, 40 percent said someone in their household had lost a job in the past five years, and about 30 percent said someone had to take a job with much lower pay during the downturn. 

While 44 percent said that the U.S. is a place where everyone, regardless of their background, can succeed, 54 percent agreed that growing income inequality between the wealthy and everyone else "is undermining the idea that every American has the opportunity to move up to a better standard of living." 

Those hit hardest by the recession were much more likely to agree with that statement, the poll said.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.