Almost a year out from Election Day 2016, Americans have a familiar view of politics and the nation’s direction – they’re angry and dissatisfied, according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Just 27 percent of them believe the country is headed on the right track, which identical to where it stood right before the Nov. 2014 midterm elections.
Fifty-four percent think the economic and political systems are stacked against them – just two points lower than where it was a year ago.
And 57 percent say they’d rather fire their member of Congress than re-elect him, which is again unchanged from the fall of 2014.
“So an electorate that voted for major change in 2014 appears once again to be dissatisfied,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang, whose firm Hart Research Associates conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.
The 2016 popularity (and unpopularity) contest
That dissatisfaction carries over to the political parties and many of the 2016 candidates – both Democrats and Republicans.
The most unpopular political figures and institutions in the NBC/WSJ poll:
- Donald Trump: 27 percent positive/56 percent negative rating (-29);
- Jeb Bush: 19 percent positive/43 percent negative (-24);
- The Republican Party: 29 percent positive/44 percent negative (-15);
- Ted Cruz: 23 percent positive/33 percent negative (-10);
- Hillary Clinton: 40 percent positive/47 percent negative (-7);
- Paul Ryan: 23 percent positive/28 percent negative (-5),
By contrast, here are the most popular figures and institutions:
- Ben Carson: 37 percent positive/24 percent negative (+13);
- Bernie Sanders: 34 percent positive/28 percent negative (+6);
- The Democratic Party: 41 percent positive/39 percent negative (+2);
- Barack Obama: 44 percent positive/43 percent negative (+1)
- Marco Rubio: 26 percent positive/25 percent negative (+1)
Obama’s overall job-approval rating in the poll stands at a pedestrian 45 percent, down a point from the last NBC/WSJ poll.
2016 election looks to be a jump ball
As for which party holds the advantage one year out before Election Day 2016 – Democrats or Republicans – the NBC/WSJ poll finds that it looks like a jump ball.
Forty-four percent of registered voters say they prefer a Republican to win the White House, versus 43 percent who pick a Democrat. (The general-election matchups featuring specific Democratic and Republican candidates will be released Tuesday night.)
And voters are split, 45 percent to 45 percent, over the party they want to control Congress after next year’s elections.
Economy is still No. 1 issue
When it comes to the issues, 38 percent say that the economy is their top issue in the presidential contest – followed by social issues and values (16 percent), Social Security and Medicare (12 percent), the federal deficit (9 percent), foreign policy and the Middle East (8 percent), health care (8 percent) and terrorism (8 percent).
But there is a difference by party: 12 percent of Democrats view health care as their No. 1 issue, versus just 3 percent of Republicans. And 14 percent of Republicans say foreign policy and the Middle East are their top concern, compared with 5 percent of Democrats.
And on the economy, a majority of Americans – 53 percent – respond that “staying where they are” best describes their own personal financial situation. By contrast, 25 percent say they’re getting ahead, and 21 percent say they’re either slipping behind or falling backward.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 25-29 of 1,000 adults (including nearly 400 reached via cell phone), and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.