Poll: More than 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction


Poll: 81 percent think US on wrong track

3 minutes ago

More than 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the
wrong direction, the highest such number since the early 1990s,
according to a new survey.

The CBS News-New York Times poll released Thursday showed 81 percent
of respondents said they believed "things have pretty seriously gotten
off on the wrong track." That was up from 69 percent a year ago, and
35 percent in early 2002.

The survey comes as housing turmoil has rocked Wall Street amid an
economic downturn. The economy has surpassed the war in Iraq as the
dominating issue of the U.S. presidential race, and there is now
nearly a national consensus that the United States faces significant
problems, the poll found.

A majority of Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of
cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only
high school say the United States is headed in the wrong direction,
according to the survey, which was published on The New York Times'
Web site.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off
than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was doing better.

The newspaper said Americans are more dissatisfied with the country's
direction than at any time since the poll's inception in the early
1990s. Only 21 percent of respondents said the overall economy was in
good condition, the lowest such number since late 1992. Two in three
people said they believed the economy was already in recession.

Still, the approval rating of President George W. Bush did not change
since last summer, with 28 percent of respondents saying they approved
of the job he was doing.

The poll also found that Americans blame government officials for the
housing crisis more than banks or home buyers and other borrowers.
Forty percent of respondents said regulators were mostly to blame,
while 28 percent named lenders and 14 percent named borrowers.

Americans favored help for people but not for financial institutions
in assessing possible responses to the mortgage crisis. A clear
majority said they did not want the government to lend a hand to
banks, even if the measures would help limit the depth of a recession.

Respondents were considerably more open to government help for
homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Fifty-three percent said they
believed the government should help those whose interest rates were
rising, while 41 percent said they opposed such a move.

The nationwide telephone survey of 1,368 adults was conducted from
March 28 to April 2. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3
percentage points.

© 2008 The Associated Press