The president’s poll numbers may reach George W. Bush levels if the most recent polling trend continues. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reports: “Mr. Obama registered his lowest-ever approval rating for his overall job performance and handling of foreign policy in the new Journal poll, as well as the worst personal favorability ratings of his presidency. The president’s approval rating dropped to 40% in this latest poll from 41% in a June survey, and he notched a disapproval rating of 54%, matching a previous high. Meanwhile, 36% approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of foreign policy, compared with the 60% who disapprove—his worst-ever marks.” Congressional Republicans didn’t even do that well (only 19 percent positive and 54 percent negative), but Senate Democrats are under water as well (46 negative and 31 percent positive).

President Obama (Drew Angerer/Bloomberg)

Given the distribution of House seats and gerrymandering, no one seriously is predicting the House will flip. But if the presidential poll numbers and Senate Democrats’ ratings mean something then the slew of credible GOP challengers should have a field day.

A driving factor in respondents’ views is the mediocre economy: “76% of adults lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do — an all-time high. Some 71% of adults think the country is on the wrong track, a leap of 8 points from a June survey, and 60% believe the U.S. is in a state of decline.” But Obama gets all-time-low marks on other topics as well: “36% approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of foreign policy, compared with the 60% who disapprove — his worst-ever marks.”

Whether it is Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or both running for president in 2016, the president’s collapse poses a significant problem. Absent a recovery of the economy and our standing in the world and a huge improvement in his last two years, they are going to find some way to keep as far away as possible without offending hardcore Obama supporters. As for the Republicans, the “most un-Obama candidate” may be the winner’s moniker.

For the White House it’s always a “communications” problem, and they promise to put the president out there more often to answer questions. (Haven’t Senate Democrats suffered enough?) Outside the White House and MSNBC bubble, there is wide agreement among lawmakers of both parties that he is toxic for Democrats in competitive seats. No wonder he’s spinning all sorts of schemes for operating outside the constitutional confines of his office to electrify his base. In doing so however he’s become quite unpopular with the rest of the electorate — by a growing margin.