For the third national election in a row, independent voters may be poised to vote out the party in power. Political independents now favor GOP candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008. The "independent vote," however, is in no way monolithic; this is not surprising given that most independents are recent refugees from the two major parties.
Republicans are more likely to say this year's election is more important than most and that news coverage of politics makes them angry. They are also more upbeat about their preferred candidates' chances in November than are Democrats or independents.
Across party lines, the public sees earmarking by their congressional candidates as more of an asset than a liability. Americans are divided on the value of Obama in November, while both Palin's support and Tea Party affiliation are seen by more as negative than positive. On energy, public backs a wide range of goals and policies.
In broad terms, voters view the Democratic Party's ideology as the opposite of the Republican Party's: 58% say the Democratic Party is either very liberal or liberal while 56% say the GOP is either very conservative or conservative.
Older Americans have a more negative view of incumbents, are more likely to vote for a candidate with no elective experience and less likely to support those who compromise than are Americans younger than age 65.
Americans are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported TARP, more likely to back one who compromises, and split on health care supporters. Neither party has an advantage on the economy, but the GOP has improved on several issues. Sharp rise in BP criticism over the oil spill.
Opinions of the Republican Party have improved significantly but still far more people blame the GOP for the poor economy than blame the Democrats. Anti-incumbent sentiment runs high: three-in-ten don't want to see their current representative reelected. Financial institutions remain a major target of public anger.
While Sarah Palin is a GOP favorite, it is Mitt Romney who now enjoys a positive balance of opinion among the general public. Newt Gingrich remains a divisive figure and Michale Steele is still mostly unknown.
Latinos, who heavily supported Obama in the November election, rate such issues as the economy, health care and education as the more important issues facing the country. Hispanics were more likely to be first time voters than the general public.
A wrap-up of possibly overlooked polling trends and end-of-campaign happenings.