Negativity toward Washington hits record levels

Democrats and Republicans are having a tough time finding common ground in this increasingly polarized political environment, but here's one thing both parties agree on: Few are happy with how the country is being run.

A new Gallup Poll finds that 81 percent of Americans are "dissatisfied" with how the country is being governed—the highest number ever recorded since Gallup first posed the question to the American public 40 years ago. More Republicans than Democrats are unhappy, but the total includes a clear majority of both parties: Sixty-five percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans say they are "dissatisfied."

Not surprisingly, the poll also finds record levels of unhappiness with Congress. A record 82 percent of those polled disapprove of how lawmakers are doing their jobs. Sixty-nine percent of Americans say they have "little or no confidence" in Congress—also a record high.

But the public's anger isn't just limited to elected officials. Fifty-three percent of those polled say they have "little to no confidence" in the men and women who either "seek or hold" public office. That's a significant reversal from just three years ago, when 66 percent of those polled in 2008 said they had a "great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence in those seeking or holding public office.

This record level of negativity toward Washington can't be a good sign for incumbents up for re-election in 2012—especially because there is no indication that the numbers will get better ahead of next year's presidential and congressional races.