The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday found that only 42 percent of respondents said they approve of Obama's performance, also a low.
The president, who has tended to be viewed favorably as a person even when the public view of his job performance soured, also for the first time had more people giving him a negative rating, 45 percent, than positive, 41 percent.
The poll was conducted by a Democrat, Peter D. Hart, and a Republican, Bill McInturff.
"Personally and politically, the public's assessment is two thumbs down," Hart said.
But the numbers suggest Obama's ratings are part of general dissatisfaction with the political process. Only 22 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Republican Party and the GOP's disapproval rating, at 53 percent, was higher than the president's.
In another sign of public anger, 63 percent of those polled said they would like to see someone else representing them in Congress, the highest share since the poll began asking the question in 1992. While 74 percent said Congress is making things worse, not better, only 22 percent said the country is moving in the right direction.
The poll was conducted between Oct. 25 and Oct. 28 with 800 adults surveyed by telephone. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.