Hate your candidates this year? You’re not alone

What do you get when you combine a dysfunctional Congress, a divided American public, and several hundred million dollars worth of negative ads? A whole bunch of unpopular candidates, that’s what.

In top-tier races around the country, voters are struggling to decide between politicians that they fell lukewarm about at best and outright contemptuous of at worst. A number of high-profile contests feature not one, but two candidates who polls show are more disliked than liked by the state’s electorate. CONT.

Benjy Sarlin, MSNBC

As Midterms Near, GOP Leads on Key Issues, Democrats Have a More Positive Image

With less than two weeks before the midterm elections, the Republican Party holds significant leads on several major issues. Voters say the GOP could do a better job than the Democrats on the economy, and the Republicans hold double-digit advantages on both terrorism and the budget deficit. CONT.

Pew

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Crunching the Numbers: When The Personal is Political – Women Voters and the Midterms

It’s become conventional wisdom to say “women voters” are a key this year. But if the “women’s vote” sounds like a very big group, that’s because it is; in fact, more than half the electorate. So we’ve got to dive deeper. Which groups of women, in particular, may be up for grabs? And the even bigger question: what do pollsters find happening in womens’ lives right now that affects how they view politics? In this installment of Crunching the Numbers, CBS’ Anthony Salvanto talks with Celinda Lake, a key Democratic pollster on women voters and explores how, as Lake puts it, “the personal is political.”

CBS News

Why Are Americans Less Involved in This Year’s Election?

As noted by my colleague Jeff Jones in his recent review, Americans’ collective thought given to this election is lower than has been the case in the two most recent midterm elections in 2010 and 2006. Likewise, enthusiasm and self-reported motivation to vote are also down. The differences are particularly large compared with 2010, with a drop of 13 percentage points in thought given to the election, 18 points in motivation to vote and a drop of nine points in enthusiasm. CONT.

Frank Newport, Gallup

Nation’s Confidence Ebbs at a Steady Drip

In taking office during two overseas wars and the Great Recession, President Obama set out to restore society’s frayed faith in its public institutions, saying that the question was not whether government was too big or small, “but whether it works.” Six years later, Americans seem more dubious than ever that it really does. …

To be sure, it remains debatable whether government really is more dysfunctional than in the past. During other rough periods, during war and depression, during the civil rights movement or the Watergate scandal or Hurricane Katrina, institutions struggled to meet public needs. But today’s public disillusionment has been turbocharged by the relentless pace of the modern news media, the unforgiving glare of social media and the calculating efforts of partisans. CONT.

Peter Baker, New York Times

Would Stronger Parties Mean Less Polarization?

Ever since they emerged in the early 1800s, political parties have been a target of public scorn. But they have always had their defenders — a smaller, less influential camp that holds that parties are more beneficial than harmful because they play an essential role in mediating political disputes. …

The intensity of polarized politics at every level of government now puts the dispute over political parties at the center of a debate among office holders, political scientists, legal experts and partisan activists. Is it possible that strengthening the parties could lessen polarization? CONT.

Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times