More say country is heading wrong way

Published May 21, 2007

WASHINGTON - It's gloomy out there.

Men and women, whites and minorities - all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed say things in the United States are going in the right direction, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. That is about the lowest level of satisfaction detected since the survey started in December 2003.

Rarely have longer-running polls found such a rate since the even gloomier days of 1992 ahead of the first President Bush's re-election loss to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The current glumness is widely blamed on public discontent with the war in Iraq and with President Bush. It is striking for how widespread the mood is among different groups of people.

Women and minorities are less content than men and whites, which has been true for years. But all four groups are at or near record lows for the AP-Ipsos poll, and at unusually low levels for older surveys, as well.

Asked in April why they felt things were veering in the wrong direction, one-third overall volunteered the war and one-fourth blamed poor leadership.

Nine percent faulted the economy, 8 percent a loss of moral values and 5 percent gasoline prices.

The numbers could bode ill for Republicans and are reflected in polls that show voters prefer the Democratic Party to the GOP - without naming specific candidates - to win the White House next year.

"You connect the dots back to Bush. He's done more to undermine their brand than we could have done spending millions of dollars, " said Cornell Belcher, who polls for Democrats. "I'd rather be us right now."

Early polling, though, shows specific front-running Republican hopefuls largely holding their own against top Democrats.

The poll involved telephone interviews with 1, 000 adults from May 7 to 9.

It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.