"The election isn't going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate - that's for sure," says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, 8.2 percent now, won't drop back to 6 percent until after 2016.
Economists consider a "normal" level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent.
The economists foresee a jobless rate of 8 percent on Election Day - the highest any postwar president running for reelection has faced.
The survey results come before the government reports Friday on hiring during June. Fears about the economy escalated after U.S. employers added just 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year and the third straight month of weak job growth.
The AP survey collected the views late last month from 32 private, corporate, and academic economists on a range of issues. Among their views:
The economy will continue to grow only slowly. The average forecast for the April-June period is that GDP grew at an annual rate of 2 percent. That's down from a 2.4 percent forecast in April. The economists think the rate in the final six months of the year will be just 2.3 percent.
Monthly job gains will average 139,000 the rest of this year - barely enough to keep up with population growth and prevent unemployment from worsening.
The biggest threat to the economy are the tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect Jan. 1 unless Congress reaches an agreement.
Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics, said the United States was in a squeeze: It needs to stimulate growth. Yet it also needs to rein in government spending and deficits over the long run.
"I don't envy the next president, whoever he is," Sinai said. "He is going to have one heck of a problem to fix."