By Jon Dougherty, editor-in-chief

A newly released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals that a sizeable majority of Americans now feel like the country is headed in the wrong direction.

According to the survey, “six-in-10 Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, and nearly 70 percent of them have negative opinions on the state of the nation today,” NBC News reported.

Some of the terms used to describe the state of the nation were “wrong track,” “disarray,” “turmoil,” “polarized,” “concerned,” “shambles” and “declining.”

“Times are grim,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “The shutdown is front and center.”

The shutdown.

NBC News reported that the survey was conducted before the deal announced by POTUS Doald Trump on Friday that he agreed to a 21-day stopgap funding measure that would reopen shuttered government agencies, paying strapped federal workers and giving lawmakers time to negotiate a longer-term bill that contains wall funding.

There is reason to believe the NBC News/WSJ poll is accurate. A Rasmussen survey published Jan. 21 found that just 33 percent of Americans believe the country is on the right track, down 3 percent from the previous week and way down from 43 percent in December.

That’s significant because, as Rasmussen notes, the figure “has been in the 30s since the current government shutdown began December 22.”

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“This finding ran in the 40s for most weeks last year after being in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama’s last full year in office,” the polling firm noted further.

Of course, NBC News’ pollsters tried to blame the shutdown and the public’s disdain for it on Republicans.

“This poll looks a lot more like our December data than in October 2013,” when the GOP’s numbers plummeted during that shutdown more than five years ago, said McInturff.

But did the GOP’s numbers really “plummet” then? Because they went on in the 2014 midterms to widen their electoral majorities in the House and took over the Senate.

Likewise, this time, polling suggesting Republicans are getting blamed seems flawed because the fact is that the current souring of the public’s mood is directly tied to when Democrats took over the House…and the shutdown began.

First things first. The same NBC/WSJ survey has the president’s approval rating at a healthy 43 percent; Rasmussen has the president at 45 percent approval. The president’s support, as acknowledged by the NBC/WSJ survey and in Rasmussen’s daily polling numbers, has remained strong especially among his core supporters.

Besides that, a closer look at Rasmussen’s survey results over the past two years regarding the overall attitude among Americans about the direction of the country reveals that it changed — 180 degrees — from the moment Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

Rasmussen reports that the percentage of Americans who believed the country was heading in the right direction during the final year of Obama’s administration was in the 20s, but the percentage quickly rose to the 40s when Trump became president.

Now, suddenly, the positive outlook for America has tanked. And why? The government shutdown.

Well, why did that occur? A House-passed bill in December contained the amount of border wall funding the president requested but it did not pass in the Senate because Democrats wouldn’t support it, leading to the current shutdown.

Since then Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not only refused the president’s border wall funding request, but she also refused to even negotiate with him, electing instead to vacation in Hawaii while other Democrats partied in Puerto Rico with lobbyists.

The polling data from NBC/WSJ and Rasmussen make two things abundantly clear: The president’s supporters are still solidly with him; and the mood over the direction the country is headed dramatically soured after Democrats won the House, helped caused the shutdown, and then followed it up with their usual brand of obstructionist politics.

Bottom line: When Democrats run even a portion of government, most Americans have little faith that things will turn out well.

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