In assessing the frame of mind of the public at the close of the year, the Pew Research Center found that
Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note. Fully 72% are dissatisfied with national conditions, 89% rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues.
Those figures aren’t surprising — but for President Obama and his political team, they must be quite worrisome. Right now the American people, by large margins, believe we’re heading in the wrong direction. And to borrow a favorite Obama metaphor, the president is the person with the keys to the car and his hand on the wheel.
Unless Mr. Obama is able to shift this trajectory by this time next year, his chances for re-election will be long.