By Salena Zito

A poll of opinion polls shows Americans’ attitudes are changing rapidly.

They are less and less thrilled about the country’s direction and Congress, according to Tom Bevan, executive editor of national polling aggregator RealClearPolitics. He says independent voters are shifting away from the polices of the Obama administration and Democrats.

“Independents have flipped negative,” warns Bevan. “That’s not a good thing for any party.”

The first gubernatorial races since Democrats took control of Washington, in New Jersey and Virginia, show voter angst and ire. Those races appear to be heading in different directions but are two sides of the same coin.

In Virginia — which swung Democrat first in 2006 to Jim Webb in his Senate race, then further to Obama in 2008 — Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds by widening margins.

In New Jersey — which last went for a GOP presidential candidate in 1988 — Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine averages about 40 percent. GOP challenger Chris Christie has fallen more than six points in two weeks. The beneficiary is independent Chris Daggett, winning double-digit support.

“What do these phenomena have in common? In two words: disillusionment and disgust,” says Lara Brown, Villanova University political science professor.

Registered and likely voters, in particular, are disillusioned and disgusted with both parties and their candidates, who seem to over-promise, under-deliver, ask for too much and take advantage of their positions, explains Brown.

Americans are worn out by inflated rhetoric and Washington insiders who just months ago said they were outsiders.

Voters wonder what happened to candidates they elected to clean up Washington, stop partisan bickering and remove Wall Street titans who retained fat bonuses only because taxpayers bailed out their companies.

Americans are simply fed up:

• A CNN poll last week suggests most no longer agree with Obama “on the issues that matter most to them.”

• A Rasmussen poll shows 31 percent “think Congress has a poor understanding of the health care proposal,” down four points from August (not a high point for Congress, if you recall town hall meetings). Worse, only 18 percent “think the (health care) plan will be a bipartisan effort.”

• Another Rasmussen poll shows only 49 percent “think that the economy will be stronger in five years than it is today.” • A new Gallup poll shows most are “very concerned” about the economy and 60 percent “think the economic conditions are getting worse.”

Adding to these fears is Iran, which “9 in 10 Americans” think is developing nuclear arms, according to CNN.

And few seem to understand the president’s unwillingness to make a decision about Afghanistan. It is as if they ask: “Does he ever actually sit at the Oval Office desk to work — like the rest of us?”

Then there are tax problems for Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.; questionable loans for Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; and adulterous liaisons for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

Further, only 39 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of Michael Steele, GOP chairman. Other polls suggest Americans feel Republicans are merely “obstructionists.”

The White House added insult to injury with its fight with Fox News. Most wonder how the White House even bothers with this “issue” with so many other important matters at hand.

“When you look at all of these things, it is no great surprise that the thousands of tea party activists haven’t embraced any one political party and that Glenn Beck’s anti-administration, small-government, pro-individual-freedom tirade continues to draw some of the highest ratings of all three cable news networks,” observes Brown.

What does all this portend? Very possibly a Ross Perot moment — the emergence of someone with serious charts and serious language that angry Americans will see as more authentic than “hope and change.”

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