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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending October 25, 2014

Forget the upcoming elections. Does it really matter who wins?

Fewer voters than ever think either major political party has a plan for the future, and most say neither party represents the American people.

Voters expect incumbents to win because election rules are rigged in their favor, but have Americans had it with the two-party system?

Tea Party and Libertarian challengers to Republican candidates have been plentiful this election cycle, while some Democrats suggest likely 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, seen by most voters as a liberal, is too moderate for them. [Their preferred choice is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Most Massachusetts voters like Warren, but that doesn't mean they’d vote for her if she ran for president.

Several key governor’s races we looked at this week - Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin - are neck-and-neck, showing voters don’t have a clear preference for either party.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s job approval rating remains so dismal that most Democratic senators running for reelection won’t even admit they voted for him. But voters also strongly believe that most incumbents in the Democratic-run Senate and the Republican-controlled House don’t deserve reelection.

Democrats and Republicans remain tied on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

A couple recurring indicators suggest why voters are so disgusted. Just 26% think the country is heading in the right direction. This finding has now been in the 23% to 27% range nearly every week since early June and has been below 30% most weeks this past year.

Eighty-five percent (85%) of Working Americans consider themselves middle class, and yet 64% of voters think the economy unfair to the middle class.

Interestingly, while Americans consider this a more divided country than four years ago, they’re arguing about politics a lot less than they were before the 2012 election.

One thing Americans are talking – and arguing – about is Ebola. Everyone’s keeping their cool so far, but some acknowledge that they have changed travel plans because of the outbreak of the deadly virus in the United States.

Even before the announcement that a doctor has been diagnosed with Ebola in New York City, Americans were more critical of the federal government’s response and less confident that the public health system will be able to contain the virus.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters believe it’s better for America if the best people take government jobs rather than working the private sector instead. Just 23%, however, believe it is more honorable to work for the government.

More Americans than ever now believe it is possible for anyone in need of a job to land one.

Given the sense that the job picture is improving, it’s no surprise that beginning next year, Indiana will limit how long some can receive food stamps. Voters think that’s a good idea and believe deadlines should be extended to all public assistance programs.

While consumer and investor confidence remain largely unchanged, short- and long-term outlooks for the U.S. economy are better than they’ve been in more than a year.

Voters are now evenly divided over whether to repeal the new national health care law entirely or fix it piece-by-piece, but voters are growing less certain that a Republican-controlled Congress would actually repeal the law.

The one Senate race we looked at this week – in Kansas – threatens GOP hopes of taking over Congress. Independent Greg Orman still holds a five-point lead over incumbent Republican Pat Roberts in Kansas’ unexpectedly competitive U.S. Senate race.

Democratic challenger Paul Davis remains ahead of incumbent Republican Sam Brownback in the race for Kansas governor.

Republican Doug Ducey has pulled ahead of Democrat Fred DuVal in the closing weeks of Arizona’s gubernatorial contest.

Republican challenger Tom Foley still leads Democratic incumbent Dan Malloy in their Connecticut gubernatorial rematch as voters continue to grumble about the job Malloy has done over the past four years.

In other surveys last week:

-- Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker recently subpoenaed sermons, speeches and private communications by pastors in the city opposed to a proposed gay rights ordinance. This prompted an angry response from advocates of religious freedom nationwide, and voters strongly agree that religious leaders standing up for the beliefs of their faith should not be subject to prosecution.

-- Voters continue to think global warming is a serious issue, but when given the choice, they believe job creation is more important than fighting global warming.

-- Voters also still believe American society is generally fair and decent, and a large majority maintains that those who immigrate here should adopt the culture. language and heritage.

-- Just half of Americans remain confident in the banking system, still down considerably from the days before the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

-- Americans are also still concerned about inflation and continue to doubt whether the Federal Reserve Board can keep it under control.

-- Nearly half expect interest rates to go up next year.

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