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Poll: 70 percent in U.S. say things are going badly

  • Story Highlights
  • Americans haven't been so pessimistic since end of last Bush presidency
  • Poll shows McCain with edge on terrorism, Iraq, immigration
  • Clinton and Obama have lead on domestic and economic issues
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From Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The vast majority of Americans think things are going badly in the country, according to a new poll.

New poll results show that voters think the Democratic candidates have a better handle on economic issues.

Seven in 10 people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say things are going badly, with only 30 percent saying things are going well.

"It's been 16 years since the public gave the country's condition such a bad rating: January 1992, to be precise, in the last year in office of the last president named Bush," CNN pollster Keating Holland said.

"Seventy percent is a lot worse than two years ago, when 48 percent thought times were bad and the Republicans lost control of Congress," CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider added.

The poll indicates that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain fares poorly against either Democratic candidate when it comes to most domestic and economic issues but has a big advantage on terrorism and a narrow edge on Iraq.

"That last finding may come as a bit of a surprise, given the rising unpopularity of the war, which McCain supports, and his opposition to withdrawing U.S. troops from that country, which the public would like to see," Holland said. "But McCain has an edge when voters are asked to evaluate the candidates' ability to make decisions concerning military tactics. That may help bridge the gap in some voters minds between the unpopular position McCain takes on the war and his ability to act as a military commander during wartime." Video Watch Schneider discuss what the poll says about the mood of the country »

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are seen as better able to handle health care, the economy, taxes, the mortgage crisis and higher prices for gasoline and food. McCain does better than either Clinton or Obama on terrorism, immigration and Iraq.

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"Voters do believe either Clinton or Obama would handle the economy better than McCain, in both cases, by 53 to 42 percent. Not as big a margin as you might think with the country in such a bad mood," Schneider said.

The CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll was conducted from Monday through Wednesday, with 1,008 adult Americans interviewed by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the question on whether things are going well or badly and 3.5 percentage points for the others. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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