(dpa) - The US public is in the dumps about the direction of the country and its economy, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released Friday.
The survey found that 81 per cent of the respondents believed "things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track," an increase from 69 per cent in 2007 and 35 per cent in 2002.
Two-thirds of the 1,368 respondents said they thought the economy was already in a recession.
Worry about a recession was amplified earlier this week when Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said for the first time publicly that a recession was "possible." Other analysts and economists have been using the word for more than a month.
The first official figures for the first quarter's gross domestic product won't be released until later this month.
At the heart of the economic woes is the mortgage credit crisis and a 75-per-cent increase in bank foreclosures in 2007 over 2006, a number that is climbing even more rapidly this year.
With the glut of homes on the market and declining home prices, consumers are tightening their belts as rising foreclosures have put investors at risk. The effect has rippled through the economy and prompted the US central bank to start bailing out Wall Street investors.
The gloomy public mood is likely to drag down the chances for election of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, in November, analysts said.