Fox News Poll: 1-point margin in Iowa, Kansas and North Carolina Senate races

“It all comes down to turnout.”

That’s one of the biggest clichés in politics. It’s also true in one-point races. Welcome to Iowa, Kansas and North Carolina.

According to the latest round of Fox News Senate battleground polls, none of the front-runners in those states hits the 50 percent mark. That means these races will be decided by late-deciding voters — and campaigns competing furiously to get their voters to the polls. CONT.

Dana Blanton, Fox News

FiveThirtyEight’s Gubernatorial Forecasts: A Lot Of Really Close Races

Most of our focus this year has been on the battle for the U.S. Senate. But 36 states will hold gubernatorial elections Tuesday. We hope it’s not too late to give you some polling-based forecasts of how they might turn out. CONT.

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

When It Makes Sense to Question Polls

I wrote an article this week headlined “Why Polls Tend to Undercount Democrats.” Reaction was fierce.

A number of readers compared the article’s argument to the “unskewed” polls phenomenon before the 2012 presidential election, when many commentators argued, mainly based on their instinct about the likely composition of the electorate, that the polls were missing Republican-leaning voters.

Other than the observation that the polls might be off, the similarities end there. CONT.

Nate Cohn, New York Times

Alarmed by Ebola, Public Isn’t Calmed by ‘Experts Say’

When public health leaders and government officials make the case against isolating more people returning from the Ebola hot zones in West Africa, or against imposing more travel restrictions from that region, time and again they cite science and experts. It isn’t working very well. …

“Skepticism about science and expertise and authority has a pretty big constituency out there,” said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. It is not enough for policy makers to be right on the science, he said; they must also find a way to reassure “people who are all too ready to interpret expert opinion as elitist and condescending.”

That sort of view runs across the political spectrum, he said, on issues like the safety of vaccinations, prescription drugs or fluoridated water, and studies have shown that attempts to correct misinformation often end up reinforcing it, instead. But in recent years, that mistrust has been most visible on the right, where many people dismiss scientific consensus on global warming and evolution. CONT.

Richard Pérez-Peña, New York Times

Less Than Half of Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws

Less than half of Americans, 47%, say they favor stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, similar to views found last year. But this percentage is significantly below the 58% recorded in 2012 after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, spurred a nationwide debate about the possibility of more stringent gun control laws. Thirty-eight percent of Americans say these laws should be kept as they are now, and 14% say they should be made less strict. CONT.

Art Swift, Gallup

Yes, Republicans will take the Senate. But here’s a GOP reality check.

Whatever the precise size of the incoming wave — and we’ll leave it to forecasters and surfers to fight over that — most models are predicting a Republican takeover of the Senate, as well as gains in the House, following Tuesday’s midterm vote.

Such a victory gives the Republican Party a significant opportunity to recast itself in the eyes of voters. But let’s be clear: Winning on Tuesday will not necessarily portend success in 2016. After all, big GOP wins in 1994 and 2010 did not lead to a President Dole or a President Romney in the subsequent elections. In fact, the Republican Party hasn’t managed to string together three successful elections since the 2000-2002-2004 political cycles.

So what does a GOP win in 2014 mean for the coming presidential contest? Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean: CONT.

Glen Bolger & Neil Newhouse (Public Opinion Strategies), Washington Post

High anxiety, low expectations as election nears

As Election Day nears, America is the Land of the Fearful.

Voters are rattled by the Ebola virus, braced for years of conflict against the terrorist group Islamic State and still worried about jobs, a nationwide USA TODAY Poll finds. Two-thirds say the nation faces more challenging problems than usual; one in four call them the biggest problems of their lifetimes.

And many lack confidence in the government to address them. CONT.

Susan Page, USA Today

Don’t Overstate Voter Enthusiasm, Pollsters Warn

Polling has consistently shown this year that the groups most enthusiastic about voting skew Republican—men over age 50, tea-party supporters and seniors among them. It’s one of the signs, commentators have often said, that Tuesday night is going to be a good one for the GOP.

But here’s a caution: Those same groups were also at the top of the enthusiasm charts in 2012—a year when Republicans lost the presidential race, along with seats in the House and the Senate. CONT.

Siobhan Hughes, Wall Street Journal

Bet on a Republican Senate Majority

While many races remain close, it’s just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Ultimately, with just a few days to go before the election, the safe bet would be on Republicans eventually taking control of the upper chamber.

We say eventually because there’s a decent chance we won’t know who wins the Senate on Election Night. Louisiana is guaranteed to go to a runoff, and Georgia seems likelier than not to do the same. CONT.

Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik & Geoffrey Skelley, Sabato’s Crystal Ball

Narrow Edge in Partisanship Is Bad Election Sign for Democrats

Americans’ party preferences during the third quarter of a midterm election year give a good indication of which party will perform better in that year’s election. Democrats’ narrow two-percentage-point advantage in party affiliation this year — 45% to 43% — shares a greater similarity with strong Republican midterm years, such as 1994, 2002 and 2010, than with the advantage held in better Democratic years like 1998 and 2006. CONT.

Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup