Can Any Candidate Cheer Up America?

If there was any doubt, the new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll confirms it.

The American people are officially in a very bad mood and it starts with the economy.

73 percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track -- the worst since 1992, when the first President Bush lost re-election.

The exact same proportion disapprove of this Pesident Bush's handling of the economy -- which 8 in 10 Americans believe is already in recession.

In the Democratic race, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton narrowly -- and here's part of the reason why: -- By 47 percent to 40 percent, Democrats see him as having the best chance to defeat Republican John McCain.

In potential general election matchups, the poll doesn't find much difference. Obama leads McCain by three percentage points. Hillary Clinton leads McCain by one percentage point.

That competitive showing is a testament to John McCain's maverick appeal. But it also may reflect the fact that Democrats are in the midst of a nasty fight -- and haven't yet begun to fully exploit their general election advantage with voters on the economy.

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