Of the likely voters surveyed, 43.4 percent said they expect a recession, up from 40 percent a month earlier. The worsening mood was apparent across nearly every age and ethnic group, and both sides of the political spectrum, pollster John Zogby said.
"The recession mentality has settled in. It's in the bloodstream now," he said. "It's an across-the-board funk."
Zogby said the economic mood on Main Street was worse now than in 2001, the most recent U.S. recession, and was unlikely to improve quickly, even if the Federal Reserve continued lowering interest rates and the housing market stabilized.
The Fed has cut its benchmark interest rate three times since mid-September as it tries to insulate the broader economy from the housing slump and tightening credit conditions. It is expected to cut rates further in the coming months.
Only about one in five of those polled gave U.S. economic policy high marks, although 55 percent rated their own personal financial situation "good" or "excellent".
The poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted December 12-14, about one week after President George W. Bush unveiled a plan aimed at helping homeowners with subprime mortgages who are at risk of foreclosure.www.reuters.com