David Cameron had higher ratings on trust but his economic lead was narrow
More people think Tory leader David Cameron will make the right cuts in public spending than Gordon Brown, a poll for BBC Two's Newsnight suggests.
Of the 1,050 adults canvassed for the programme, 39% said they trusted the Conservatives to make the right choices when it came to spending decisions.
This compared with 24% for Labour and 17% for the Liberal Democrats.
Asked about Gordon Brown's leadership, 67% of people disapproved of the job the prime minister was doing.
Only 29% said they approved of the way Mr Brown was performing.
The approval rating is worse than that of former President George W Bush, at a similar time in the electoral cycle.
The research was carried out by Cornell Belcher, Barack Obama's pollster during last year's US presidential campaign.
Two thirds - 67% - of those asked also think that the country is "pretty seriously off on the wrong track", as opposed to less than a third - 30% - who think it is "moving in the right direction".
Even among those who voted Labour at the last election in 2005, a majority of 51% think the country is on the "wrong track".
Of Labour voters in 2005, 47% think the country is heading in the "right direction".
When asked about trust, Gordon Brown also came out badly - although the other party leaders did not fare much better.
Only 21% of those asked think Gordon Brown "is someone I can trust", compared to 30% who said the same of David Cameron.
Almost the same number of people - 29% - said they did not trust any of the party leaders.
Less than a quarter of people asked - 24% - think Gordon Brown and the Labour Party "will prioritise families".
For David Cameron and the Conservatives that figure was 42%, while 15% thought that Liberal Democrats would put families first when deciding policies.
On one of the key issues which could decide the next election, Gordon Brown and David Cameron are neck-and-neck.
When asked who "will stand up for ordinary people during an economic crisis", 31% said Gordon Brown and the Labour Party.
This topped the 30% who said the same of David Cameron and the 18% who backed Nick Clegg.
Cornell Belcher, employing many of the techniques he developed when working for Barack Obama, also wanted to know how British politicians compare in the public mind to the US President.
Nearly half those asked thought no party leader was like Barack Obama
Asked whether they have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of Mr Obama, 88% of those polled said they had a favourable or very favourable opinion, compared with 9% who had an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion.
Asked which UK leader was most like Mr Obama, David Cameron had a clear lead with 18% support, compared to 11% for Gordon Brown and 3% for Nick Clegg.
Even though former prime minister Tony Blair was not named, he still commanded 7% support while Margaret Thatcher was named by 2% of those asked.
But 46% said no British politician was like the US President.
The poll was conducted between 11 and 14 September by ORB, amongst a nationally representative sample of 1056 UK adults aged 18 years and over.
Watch Cornell Belcher's first film on Newsnight on Friday 18 September 2009 at 10.30pm on BBC Two.