Most voters are unhappy with the way things are going in the country, and over half say they don’t see signs the economy has turned the corner, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday. Those are two of the reasons why President Obama’s job approval remains below 50 percent -- and hits a new low among independents.

Just 25 percent of independents approve of the job the president is doing, down from 31 percent last month.

Independents were essential to Obama’s 2008 victory when 52 percent backed him. That support dropped to 45 percent in the 2012 election (Fox News exit poll). In fact, Republican Mitt Romney topped Obama by garnering 50 percent among independents.

Overall, 46 percent of voters approve of Obama’s job performance, while 47 percent disapprove. That’s a slight improvement from last month when headlines trumpeted the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the NSA spying on Americans and the Justice Department monitoring journalists. At that time 43 percent approved and 51 percent disapproved (June 22-24).

The new poll also finds most voters -- 63 percent -- are dissatisfied with how things are going in the country, while about one-third are satisfied (35 percent). These views are mostly unchanged since January. However, dissatisfaction has gone up 10 percentage points since just before the presidential election. In January of 2009, in the final days of the George W. Bush administration, 79 percent felt dissatisfied.

It continues to be a summer of discontent with Congress: 18 percent of voters approve of the job lawmakers are doing, while 74 percent disapprove. Last month 15 percent approved and 77 percent disapproved (June 22-24). Approval of Congress hit a record-low 10 percent in August 2011.

Voters split over whether Obama and his team have helped the economy: 43 percent think the administration has made it better, while 44 percent say it’s made it worse. That’s an improvement from a year ago when 37 percent said the White House had made the economy better and 49 percent said worse (July 2012).

A 57-percent majority says they don’t see any signs the economy has started to turn the corner, while 38 percent say they feel the worst is over. Those views are little changed from a year ago.

The poll does find patches of optimism: By a two-to-one margin voters are more likely to say the housing market is getting better than worse (56 percent vs. 28 percent). And by a five percentage-point margin, more voters think the nation’s job situation is getting better than getting worse (44-39 percent).

Democrats are three times as likely as Republicans to be happy with the way things are going in the country, twice as likely to think the economy has turned the corner, and more than twice as likely to think the job situation has improved. Majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans agree the housing market is getting better.

Poll Pourri

Though Barack Obama’s job rating remains underwater, his personal favorability rating stands at 50 percent, up from a record low 47 percent last month. That means the president has a few more fans than Pope Francis, who has a 46 percent favorable rating. That said, nearly six times as many people have an unfavorable view of Obama (46 percent) as the pope (8 percent). Nearly half of voters have no opinion of Pope Francis (19 percent “can’t say” and 26 percent say they’ve never heard of him).

Recently CBS’s Bob Schieffer said in his weekly commentary that while he still thinks the United States is the greatest country in the world, he’s concerned the country doesn’t have the reputation it once had. Voters agree: 79 percent say the U.S. is the greatest country in the world, and 82 percent think the country is losing some of its standing. Most Republicans (83 percent) and Democrats (78 percent) feel the United States is the greatest country in the world. On the other hand, by a 19 percentage-point margin, Republicans (91 percent) are more likely than Democrats (72 percent) to think America isn’t the model that it once was.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,017 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from July 21 to July 23. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.