Poll: Obama Sinks to a New Low

Only 42 percent approve of job president is doing, 70 percent say country on wrong track.

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The political establishment in Washington is taking some big hits in public opinion, with President Obama and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress floundering in the polls.

The latest example is the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey. It finds that Obama's approval rating has dropped to an all-time low, with only 42 percent of voters approving of his job performance. This is a decline of five points from earlier this month. Fifty-one percent disapprove of the job he is doing.

The pollsters said Obama's fade is due to a combination of factors, including the recent government shutdown, problems with the launch of his health care law's website, questions about the health care law in general, allegations of domestic and international spying by the National Security Agency, and his handling of the issue of Syria's chemical weapons.

[READ: Obama's Popularity Plunges in Wake of Shutdown, Syria]

And for the first time in the survey, more Americans view Obama unfavorably, 45 percent, than favorably, at 41 percent.

President Obama's quarterly approval level is down 3 percent from the previous period, according to Gallup.
President Obama's quarterly approval level is down 3 percent from the previous period, according to Gallup.

Congress is even worse trouble, which is the same pattern other polls have shown. In a remarkable finding, 63 percent of voters want to replace their own member of Congress, the highest percentage ever recorded on this question going back to 1992. This runs counter to the traditional pattern, in which Americans usually want to keep their incumbent in Congress even if they give the overall Congress bad ratings.

The public's view of the Republican party has reached an all-time low in the poll, with 53 percent viewing the GOP negatively and 22 percent positively. The Democrats do better, but the party's ratings are still poor. Forty percent have a negative view of the Democrats and 37 percent have a positive view.

This would appear to give the Democrats a slight advantage going into next year's mid-term elections. Democrats have a 45 to 41 percent edge on which party should control Congress after those elections, but that's down from 47-39 a month ago.

[POLL: Democrats May Lose Voters in 2014 Due to Disinterest]

It appears that an anti-incumbent mood is taking hold, favoring candidates who run against Washington.

Only 22 percent say the country is heading in the right direction, and 70 percent say the nation is on the wrong track.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, compared the public's mood to that expressed by the character Howard Beale in the 1976 movie "Network": "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore," Hart told NBC.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.