By Mark Murray | Deputy political director MSNBC.com
When Barack Obama unveils his jobs and economic plan to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, he'll do so at the lowest point of his presidency, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
After the bruising debt-ceiling fight — as well as Standard & Poor's subsequent downgrade of the nation's credit rating — Obama's job approval rating has sunk to a low of 44 percent, a 3-point drop since July. His handling of the economy stands at a low of 37 percent. And only 19 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest mark for this president.
Perhaps most ominously for Obama, a majority of poll takers — 54 percent — think he's facing a longer-term setback from which he's unlikely to recover. Back in January, just 39 percent agreed with that assessment.
Indeed, that 54 percent is virtually identical to George W. Bush's score on the same question in the Nov. 2005 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was released just months after Bush's widely criticized handling of Hurricane Katrina.
"When [Obama] addresses the American public, he is going to have one more chance to provide some sense of hope and optimism that he ... can provide answers to what is a woeful economy," said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.
But both Hart and McInturff contend that Obama wasn't the only party damaged by the debt ceiling debacle. A whopping 82 percent now disapprove of the job Congress is doing. In the history of this poll, it's an all-time high level of dissatisfaction with Capitol Hill.