Editor's note: This is another in a series of "WND/WENZEL POLLS" conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
Several key voting blocs that Barack Obama desperately needs to pull off a re-election bid this year are expressing alarm over his leadership and the direction he's taking the nation, according to a new poll.
Analysts say the blocs include young voters, blacks, Hispanics and women. However, the poll shows none of those groups is expressing confidence in Obama.
The poll was conducted for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies, Aug. 18-21. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.44 percentage points.
Overall, only 37 percent of respondents believe America is going the right direction. Meanwhile, 72 percent of independents and 91 percent of Republicans – even 15 percent of the Democrats – say the nation is going in the wrong direction.
Among the key constituencies for Obama, only 34 percent of women believe the nation is going in the right direction, along with only 42 percent of blacks and only 2 percent of Hispanics. Among young voters, only 33 percent of those 20 or younger think Obama is leading the nation in the right direction, and only 29 percent of those in their 30s agree.
The results aligned closely with the job rating that voters give Obama. Only 18 percent think he is doing an excellent job and another 28 percent a good job. A dominant 45 percent of respondents put his performance at "poor" and another 9 percent say his performance was "only fair."
Among women, 19 percent say his performance is excellent, but 39 percent call his work poor. For blacks, the figures are 32 percent and 45 percent, for Hispanics 2 percent and 78 percent and among under-20 voters, 27 percent say his job performance is excellent and 59 percent say it is poor.
Earlier this year, the same poll showed that only 40 percent believed Obama's job performance was poor, a figure that has risen now to 45 percent.
At that time, only 33 percent said the nation was going in the right direction.
In the current poll, the key question about the candidates reflected the doubt evidenced in the other questions. While 44 percent of all respondents say they would pick the incumbent Obama in November, 48 percent say they would pick Romney. Five percent would pick Libertarian Gary Johnson, only 1 percent said they would pick another candidate while 2 percent were unsure.
Critically, the youth vote is going for Romney, with his 45 percent to 43 percent edge among voters in their 30s, and a huge 66 percent to 29 percent advantage among voters 20 or under.
The current poll shows Obama remains likeable, even if voters don't like where he's taking the country.
Forty percent of respondents say they have a very favorable opinion of Obama, with another 12 percent "somewhat favorable."
Nearly 48 percent give him an unfavorable rating.
Regarding the likely GOP challenger, Gov. Mitt Romney, his opposition and support were weaker, with 31.4 percent viewing him very favorably and 31.6 percent viewing him very unfavorably.
Johnson is viewed very favorably by 3 percent and very unfavorably by 7 percent. Some 74 percent have no opinion of him.
The problems facing the nation – controversial social agendas, economic malaise, security threats, international headaches, military worries and the like – are unusually bad, according to respondents.
Sixty percent say the difficulties are "one-in-a-generation type" of issues that "threaten the very existence of the country."
They also say – by a slight margin – they would pick the Republican Party to resolve the problems.
WND reported this week that the youth vote, on which Obama's campaign was based in 2008, is falling away from the incumbent swiftly.
A Generation Opportunity poll indicated 84 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 are planning a major life change because of the economy, including delaying marriage and a home purchase.
Twenty-six percent said they changed their living situation by taking in roommates or moving back home, 40 percent skipped a vacation and more than half have had to adjust their entertainment budget, the GO report said.
The poll also showed that while 51 percent of that age group voted in 2008, 76 percent plan to vote this fall.
At the same time, the College Republican National Committee was announcing the largest youth mobilization effort in the group's 120-year history, a plan dubbed "Operation Red November."
The grassroots movement of college Republicans nationwide aims to "recruit and mobilize college students to take back our future by voting and volunteering for Republican candidates in local and state level elections in 2012."
The group is aiming for more than 6 million live voter contacts, 100,000 volunteer hours and 50,000 new College Republicans.
CNN noted over the winter that there already was evidence the "youth vote" had moved beyond Obama.
"In 2012, the youth vote is moving on and throwing those omnipresent 'Hope' bumper stickers and T-shirts in garbage bins," CNN said.
"Not because of apathy. Not because another candidate generates more enthusiasm. Not because of his character. Not because they think voting is pointless," CNN said. "The 18-29 vote is up for grabs in 2012 because youth can't afford cars to put bumper stickers on and those T-shirts are worn out from too many days sitting on the couch unemployed."
CNN's report noted that without the youth vote four years ago, Obama would have lost at least two states, Indiana and North Carolina. That would have cost him 26 electoral votes – a margin that in 2012 could be decisive.
"It's time the president did some soul searching on his feelings toward the youth vote," wrote CNN's Brad Chase. "And he better do it soon, because the GOP candidate … won't hesitate to take the youth vote."
Nearly a year ago, when another Wenzel poll revealed similar concern about Obama's leadership and the direction he was pushing the nation, Wenzel noted that the longer the numbers stayed low for the incumbent, the harder it would be to change them.
"Poll numbers for political figures tend to be like cement – the longer they sit at low levels without significant rebounds, the harder it becomes to make them move much at all," Wenzel said at the time. "Voters appear to have drawn conclusions about Obama's performance in office and his capacity to lead.
"It will be very difficult for him to recover under good circumstances, and there is now no hint on the horizon that the economy or America's gaping political divide will heal anytime soon," he said.
See detailed results of survey questions:
Thinking of all the problems facing our country, if you had to say, do you think they are common problems that crop up from time to time, or do you think these problems are once-in-a-generation type of problems that threaten the very existence of our country?