The American public's sour mood is in interesting contrast with many of the public's views during the Great Depression of the 1930s, not only on economic, political and social issues, but also on the role of government in addressing them.
In the depths of the 1981-1982 recession, Americans were far more displeased with their president and his policies than were their predecessors during the Great Depression, more so even than in today's high-unemployment economy.
The public views the tax agreement between Obama and congressional Republicans as beneficial to both the economy and their personal finances. There are virtually no partisan differences in opinions about the agreement.
While an overwhelming number of Americans deem the deficit a major problem that must be dealt with now, few are willing to support specific proposals to address the issue. On dealing with the deficit, Obama has more credibility than Republican congressional leaders.
With the public giving subpar approval ratings to President Obama and continuing to express negative views of Congress and the political parties, it goes its own way on many of the remaining issues before the lame-duck Congress.
The public wants increased trade with Canada, Japan and several other countries (China and South Korea being notable exceptions), but support for free trade agreements is at a 13-year low, and more say trade agreements have negative rather than positive impact on jobs, wages and economic growth.
A coming Supreme Court case on an Arizona law allowing funds donated to religious schools to be subtracted from state taxes owed by donors could severely limit future Establishment Clause challenges.
Despite all the animosity aimed at Washington, one usual political punching bag is actually not seen as villainous as it once was: taxes. More say they pay about the right amount in taxes than say they pay more than their fair share.
Religious beliefs continue to be influential in shaping some Americans' views about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Far fewer cite religion as a top influence on issues such as immigration, the environment and poverty.
While a majority of Americans favors allowing changes to Social Security, there is very little support for replacing Medicare with a voucher system. Also, the public continues to see no clear leader atop the GOP.