A new opinion poll shows opposition Republicans with a clear advantage heading into November's mid-term U.S. legislative elections.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was released Tuesday, which marks the traditional start of the campaign season.
The poll indicates the number of Americans who approve of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy has dipped below 40 percent for the first time.
The Republicans are hoping to win back control of Congress, and the poll gives them a nine-point edge over Mr. Obama's Democratic Party among likely voters.
Six in 10 surveyed said they believe the country is on the wrong track, and nearly two-thirds said it is in decline.
There was some good news for Democrats. The poll indicates that among all registered voters, the two parties are even, suggesting the Democrats could blunt Republican gains with a high turnout.
A total of 52 percent of those surveyed said they approve of Mr. Obama's handling of the Iraq war, up three points since the last poll in early August.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.