Obama still leads the Republicans in Congress in trust to handle the economy but by a much-diminished 48-37 percent margin. That's contracted from 61-24 percent in April, which at the time was a record for an incumbent president over the opposition party in polls dating to 1991.
Nonetheless, Obama does escape substantial direct blame for the country's economic condition. Just 27 percent blame his administration for "not doing enough to turn the economy around," while 71 percent don't. Sixty-five percent, by contrast, blame the Bush administration "for inadequate regulation of the financial industry."
The level of discontent's also evident in continued measurements of economic attitudes in the weekly ABC News survey of consumer sentiment. Last week a mere 8 percent of Americans said the economy was in good shape, 30 points below the 23-year average; 25 percent called it a good time to spend money, 12 points below average; and 45 percent said their own finances are in good shape, also 12 points below average. Fewer than half of Americans have rated their own finances positively steadily for 17 weeks, and in all but three weeks this year.
Financial damage from the recession, though, is nonpartisan. Anywhere from 61 to 68 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike say they've been hurt.
Just short of half of Democrats, rising to 57 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans, report personal stress. In other groups, financial stress is notably lower among seniors (38 percent report stress) than among others (59 percent). It's somewhat higher among lower-income adults and women than among men and the better off.
There are differences among groups, as well, in the experience of job losses. Young people are hardest hit: Among those under 30 years old, 42 percent report a layoff or job loss in their household; that falls to 23 percent of those 30 and over. Household job losses also are higher among less-educated and lower-income Americans -- that is, those who least can afford it.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 13-17, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.