For good measure, just 23 percent of those polled said America is moving in the right direction; 65 percent said it's on the wrong track. After the 2012 election, those numbers stood at 41 percent right track and 51 percent wrong track.
Other measures continued to produce consistently grim verdicts. Just 23 percent said Obama's agenda would increase opportunity for people like them to get ahead, while 47 percent said it would diminish their opportunities; 25 percent said it would have no impact. That was essentially unchanged since September, but a significant decline since fall 2012, when two surveys found adults split about evenly on whether Obama's plans would improve or diminish their chances.
Likewise, just 34 percent of those polled said Obama's economic policies had helped "to avoid an even worse economic crisis, and are fueling economic recovery"; a 52 percent majority said instead he had "run up a record federal deficit while failing to significantly improve the economy." That continues a decline over the past year and represents the smallest share expressing a positive view about Obama's economic impact since the Heartland Monitor began asking this question (and a similarly worded predecessor) in 2009.
This poll surveyed 1,000 adults by landline and cell phones from Nov. 2-6. The survey, supervised by Ed Reilly, Brent McGoldrick, Jeremy Ruch, and Jocelyn Landau of FTI Consulting's Strategic Communications practice, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Still, in a clear-cut forest, Obama is managing to stand slightly taller on one key measure. Asked whom they trust to develop solutions to the country's economic challenges, those polled preferred Obama over congressional Republicans by 36 percent to 33 percent. That's a smaller advantage than the president has enjoyed in most of the past two years, though comparable to his standing through 2011.
Not that Americans see anyone offering many answers for the economy. Just 11 percent said they consider the economy in excellent or good shape, while a resounding 88 percent describe it as only fair or poor. The official scorekeepers may have declared the recession over in 2009, but 53 percent said they believe the economy is still in recession; only 41 percent believe it has lifted. Just 29 percent said they expect the economy to improve over the next year (while 30 percent expect to remain the same and 36 percent expect it to deteriorate). That's much glummer than even last June, when 37 percent expected improvement and 26 percent were bracing for decline. (Immediately after the election, 44 percent expected improvement.)
Americans are slightly more optimistic about their personal financial situation, but hardly euphoric. Just 44 percent described their finances as excellent or good, while 56 percent said they were only fair or poor. Those numbers have remained remarkably stable since the Heartland Monitor first asked the question in April 2009. Looking forward, about two-fifths expect their situation to improve over the next year; that's down slightly from last summer.