Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama enters the new year with a growing number of Americans pessimistic about his policies and a growing number rooting for him to fail, according to a new national poll.
But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that while a majority of the public says Republican control of the House of Representatives is good for the country, only one in four say the GOP will do a better job running things than the Democrats did when they controlled the chamber.
Sixty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they hope the president's policies will succeed.
"That's a fairly robust number but it's down 10 points since last December," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Twelve months ago a majority of the public said that they thought Obama's policies would succeed; now that number has dropped to 44 percent, with a plurality predicting that his policies will likely fail."
The survey suggests that Obama's ace-in-the-hole remains his personal popularity. CNN poll numbers released last week indicate that 48 percent of all Americans approve of how Obama is handling his job as president, but the new survey puts his approval as a person at 73 percent.
When the new Congress convenes next week, Republicans will gain control of the House. According to the poll, 51 percent say GOP control of the House is good for the country, with 42 percent saying it's bad for the nation.
But only 26 percent say the Republicans will do a better job running the House than the Democrats did, down seven points from early last month, right after the midterm elections. Twenty-two percent say the GOP will do a worse job than the Democrats, with a majority saying there won't be much difference.
Four in ten say they have more confidence in the Republicans in Congress than in the president or the Democrats in Congress. Thirty-five percent say they have the most confidence in Obama and 15 percent feel that way about the Democrats in Congress.
"If history is any guide, the coming year will see a three-way tug-of-war between Obama and both parties in Congress. That's what often happened in 1995 when Bill Clinton was in the White House and Newt Gingrich was Speaker," says Holland. "If that occurs, the poll suggests that a majority of the public would not back any side."
Thanks in part to the tough economic times, an angry electorate, and an energized Republican base, the GOP made a net gain of 63 seats in the House in the midterm elections, the biggest shift in the chamber since 1948. Republicans will hold a 242 to 193 majority in the House when the 112th Congress convenes next week.
Just over half of those questioned say they have an unfavorable opinion of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with 34 percent seeing the California Democrat in a favorable light. Her favorable rating is up eight points from just before the midterm elections, when she was the focus of a fierce Republican attack on the campaign trail.
Thirty-six percent say they see incoming House Speaker John Boehner in a favorable light, with 24 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of the Ohio Republican and four in ten unsure. Boehner's favorable rating is up 11 points since just before the midterm elections.
Voters are divided on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with one third holding a favorable opinion of the Nevada Democrat, one third saying they see him in an unfavorable light and one third unsure.
Thirty-two percent say they have a favorable opinion of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with one in four holding an unfavorable view of the Kentucky Republican and 43 percent unsure. Democrats will retain control of the Senate, but with a much smaller majority, as the GOP picked up a net gain of six seats in the chamber in the November elections.
Even though Sen. Jim DeMint played an influential role in the midterms, seven in ten say they are unsure of their opinion of the Republican from South Carolina.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 17-19, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN