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Exit Polls: America's Voters in Bleak Mood

Many Races Remain Tight as Voters Head to Polls 0:02

An initial wave of national exit polling shows that the mood of Americans who took to the polls today is bleak, with broad disapproval of Congress and of President Barack Obama.

In this year's exit poll, 44 percent of voters approve of President Barack Obama, while 54 percent disapprove. That number is nearly comparable to 2006 exit poll data for George W. Bush, when 57 percent of voters gave the sitting president a thumbs down.

A whopping 79 percent of voters say they disapprove of the job Congress is doing, with just 19 percent saying they "somewhat" or "strongly" approve of the job performance of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The highest disapproval of Congress ever recorded in exit polls was in 1990, at 80 percent; that was closely matched four years later during the Republican wave of 1994, at 74 percent.

Just 31 percent of voters say they believe the nation is headed in the right direction, versus 65 percent who say the country is on the wrong track. And 18 percent of voters today say they feel they can never trust the government in Washington to do what is right. Most voters - 61 percent - say they can trust DC to do the right thing only "some of the time."

Additionally, the exit poll data shows a growing perception that the U.S. economic system is unfair. Sixty-three percent of voters said they believe that it generally favors the wealthy, compared to 32 percent who say it is fair to most Americans.

Watch a live NBC News Decision 2014 Election Special at 10 p.m. ET, followed at 11 p.m. ET by digital coverage, with Brian Williams and a team of top political anchors, correspondents and analysts.

- Carrie Dann