The economy has weakened dramatically in recent weeks and may have slipped back into recession, data from a new IBD/TIPP Poll suggest.

The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index — usually a precursor to confidence gauges released later in the month — has plunged 13.5% to 35.8 with subcomponents off sharply.

These include readings on six-month outlook, personal finances and faith in federal policies. A reading above 50 signals optimism, below 50 pessimism.

The main index's 35.8 reading was the lowest since the poll began in 2001. It took out even the low of 37.4 set during the summer of 2008, when the financial crisis exploded into the nation's headlines.

It also stands well below the 44.4 level that marked the onset of the last recession. Since the start of this year, the index has cratered 31%.