A moody snapshot

The above chart, accompanying this USA Today story, tracks the October mood of Americans according to Gallup polling since 1981. Reports Susan Page: "History indicates that the downbeat mood is likely to present a persistent challenge for Bush's successor, whoever it is. Electing a new president, even from an opposition party, doesn't automatically lift the nation's spirits. Satisfaction with the country's direction dipped to an all-time low of 12% in 1979, contributing to President Carter's defeat and Ronald Reagan's election the next year. But not until December 1984 did a majority of Americans express satisfaction again. Similarly, satisfaction dropped to historic lows in 1992, contributing to the elder Bush's ouster and Bill Clinton's election. Not until January 1998 did the percentage of those satisfied top 50% again."

The editors of Politico look at similar data and conclude: "The anti-Washington mood in the country — aimed at both a Republican president and a Democrat-controlled Congress — has reached breathtaking levels." That's bad news for Democrats counting on angry voters to help them: Accordingly, "interviews with lawmakers and top party operatives make clear that the Democratic House and Senate caucuses are divided into two camps. One group views the numbers with concern. The other group views them with panic."