Fewer than half of them say there is a candidate running, Republican or Democratic, who would make a good president.
"We're looking at the politics of backlash," says Lawrence Jacobs of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota. Americans see a political process that is "out of touch and paralyzed in the face of crushing economic conditions and fear about the future. It's as if the country is on the Titanic and it's going down, and you've got Congress and the presidential field playing violins."
Americans by 4-1 margin say it makes "a real difference" to them who is elected president, and 53% strongly agree that the stakes in this election are greater than in previous years. Almost two-thirds of registered voters are concerned about what might happen if their candidate isn't elected.
The findings point to how much the 2012 election is about Obama, not his opposition. That's disquieting news for the president's strategists.
The president, nor anyone else in Washington for that matter, gets high marks for the job done this year.
Only 8% say Obama has done an "excellent" job, a rating given by 3% to congressional Democrats and 2% to congressional Republicans. All three received a "poor" rating by the majority of those surveyed.
Even their own partisans don't rate them highly: A third of Democrats say Obama did a fair or poor job this year. Almost eight in 10 Republicans say congressional Republicans have done a fair or poor job, and six in 10 Democrats say the same thing about congressional Democrats.
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