Washington politicians are doing an absolutely fantastic job ... of setting really low expectations for themselves.

People have hated Congress for quite a long time now. But that hate has slowly morphed into something even more troubling: Pervasive pessimism.

Witness this new poll from AP-GfK. After the 2010 election, in which Republicans won control of the House thanks to the tea party revolution, two AP-GfK polls showed at least four in 10 Americans expressed at least some confidence that the GOP could work with President Obama to address the nation's problems -- 41 percent in November 2010 and 48 percent in January 2011.

Today, that number has dropped to 13 percent. Yes, 13 percent.

A full 86 percent of Americans, meanwhile, say they are "not too confident" (47 percent) or "not at all confident" (39 percent).

This depressing point is borne out in some other numbers in the new poll:

  • Immediately after the 2010 election, 65 percent of people said they were "hopeful." Today, it's 37 percent.
  • In 2010, 41 percent of people said they were "frustrated." Today, it's 50 percent.
  • In 2010, 44 percent of people described themselves as "disappointed." Today, it's 52 percent.

The latest poll also asked people about Obama's prospects for success, and whether he was likely to succeed on several key issues over his final two years in the Oval Office.

The only thing people thought he was likely to be able to do is stop Congress from repealing Obamacare, and even with that, just 55 percent consider it "likely." (In reality, it is very likely, given the GOP doesn't have veto-proof majorities. We would also argue that vetoing a repeal of Obamacare could hardly be characterized as getting something done for the American people.)

At least six in 10 doubt Obama will be able to improve the economy (60 percent), address "global warming" (66 percent) or improve race relations (76 percent), among other potential goals. Just two years ago, after the 2012 election, people thought Obama was more likely than not to succeed on all three of these things.

So congratulations, Washington politicians. You have so sufficiently lowered expectations for yourself that basically anything you pass over the next two years will be regarded as a shocking display of bipartisanship and competence.

Update 4:21 p.m.: Pew is out with some very similar numbers.