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

Americans’ fears about Ebola are fading

Fears among Americans about the Ebola virus appear to be waning despite intensive news coverage of the small number of cases in the United States and ongoing political rancor over how best to screen travelers returning from West Africa, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. CONT.

Scott Clement & Brady Dennis, Washington Post

Likely Millennial Voters Up For Grabs

A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29- year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, finds slightly more than half (51%) of young Americans who say they will “definitely be voting” in November prefer a Republican-run Congress with 47 percent favoring Democrat control – a significant departure from IOP polling findings before the last midterm elections (Sept. 2010 – 55%: prefer Democrat control; 43%: prefer Republican control). The cohort – 26% of whom report they will “definitely” vote in the midterms – appear up-for-grabs to both political parties and could be a critical swing vote in many races in November. CONT.

Institute of Politics, Harvard

Why Polls Tend to Undercount Democrats

Polls show that the Republicans have an advantage in the fight for control of the Senate. They lead in enough states to win control, and they have additional opportunities in North Carolina and New Hampshire to make up for potential upsets. As Election Day nears, Democratic hopes increasingly hinge on the possibility that the polls will simply prove wrong.

But that possibility is not far-fetched. The polls have generally underestimated Democrats in recent years, and there are reasons to think it could happen again. CONT.

Nate Cohn, New York Times

Teachers Favor Common Core Standards, Not the Testing

The large majority of U.S. public school teachers, 76%, react positively to the primary goal of the Common Core — to have all states use the same set of academic standards for reading, writing and math in grades K-12. However, this positivity fades when the topic turns to using computerized tests to measure student performance (27%) and linking those test scores to teacher evaluations (9%). CONT.

Linda Lyons, Gallup

Do Americans believe there should be a quarantine to deal with Ebola?

A new CBS News poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support quarantine for travelers arriving from West Africa. Eighty percent think U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from West Africa should be quarantined upon their arrival in the U.S. until it is certain they don’t have Ebola. Just 17 percent think they should be allowed to enter as long as they do not show symptoms of Ebola. CONT.

CBS News

Latino Support for Democrats Falls, but Democratic Advantage Remains

After more than a year of inaction by Congress and President Obama on immigration reform, Democrats maintain a wide, but diminished, advantage among Hispanic registered voters, according to a new nationwide survey of 1,520 Hispanic adults, including 733 registered voters, by the Pew Research Center. CONT.