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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Showtime! On Tuesday, America will elect a whole bunch of governors, a sizable part of the U.S. Senate and the entire House of Representatives. They do so at a time  when most voters think it would be better to dump the entire Congress rather than to keep the crew that's in there now. That's not likely to happen, but there will probably be a change in control of the House even as the vast majority of incumbents get re-elected. But talk's cheap in campaign seasons. This is what we know from our final week of surveys before Election Day.

As of Friday, the Rasmussen Reports Senate Election 2010 Balance of Power rankings project that Democrats will hold 48 Senate seats, while Republicans will get 45. Seven states - all now held by Democrats - are in the Toss-Up category (California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia). 

This is what voters told us in our Senate surveys this past week:

COLORADO - Republican Ken Buck still holds a slight lead over incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet, the Denver schools superintendent who was appointed to this seat last year. (Survey was taken Oct. 25) 

CONNECTICUT - Longtime state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal again holds a double-digit lead over Republican opponent Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Etnertainment. (Oct. 24) 

FLORIDA - With Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek refusing Bill Clinton's overtures to quit the race, Republican Marco Rubio enjoys a 20-point advantage over Independent candidate Charlie Crist. Meek runs third. (Oct. 27) 

GEORGIA - Republican Senator Johnny Isakson has his highest level of support to date in his bid for reelection in Georgia against Democratic challenger Michael Thurmond. (Oct. 24) 

ILLINOIS - Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is barely ahead of Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the battle for President Obama's Senate seat. Democrats are hoping a visit by the president to the state this weekend will turn the tide. (Oct. 26) 

INDIANA - Republican Dan Coats looks well on his way to returning to the U.S. Senate from Indiana and moving the seat over to the GOP column in the process. (Oct. 20-21) 

KENTUCKY - Following the uproar over Democrat Jack Conway's ad criticizing his opponent's college antics and questioning his religious faith, Republican Rand Paul has taken a 12-point lead in this state's bitter U.S. Senate race. But actually this is consistent with Paul's lead for weeks. (Oct. 27) 

MARYLAND - Longtime Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski looks safely on her way to reelection in Maryland in her race against Republican Eric Wargotz. (Oct. 24) 

NEVADA - Despite President Obama's visit to the state last weekend to boost the candidacy of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Sharron Angle remains slightly ahead - for the fourth survey in a row. (Oct. 24) 

NORTH DAKOTA - North Dakota's popular Republican Governor John Hoeven holds a near three-to-one lead over Democrat Tracy Potter in the state's U.S. Senate race. Democrat Byron Dorgan's surprise decision to retire threw this one up for grabs, and it looks like another GOP pickup. (Oct. 20) 

OREGON - Republican Jim Huffman posts his best showing yet this week, but Democratic incumbent Ron Wyden still holds a double-digit lead. (Oct. 25) 

PENNSYLVANIA - The GOP's Pat Toomey maintains a small lead over Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak in the closing days of the race for Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter's seat. (Oct. 28) 

SOUTH CAROLINA - Republican incumbent Jim DeMint holds nearly a 40-point lead over Democratic challenger Alvin Greene in perhaps this year's strangest U.S. Senate race. (Oct. 19) 

WASHINGTON - Republican Dino Rossi and incumbent Democrat Patty Murray are now separated by a single point in a Senate race that has consistently been one of the closest in the country for months. (Oct. 26) 

WEST VIRGINIA - Democratic Governor Joe Manchin has been in overdrive in recent days to distance himself from President Obama and congressional Democrats, and now he's edged back into a three-point lead over Republican John Raese. This one, too, hasn't worked out the way it looked on paper. (Oct. 24) 

WISCONSIN - Republican challenger Ron Johnson receives over 50% support against incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in the fourth consecutive survey. (Oct. 25) 

Voters will elect governors in 37 states this November. At week's end, the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Gubernatorial Scorecard shows Democrats solidly ahead in three states, with one more leaning their way. Republicans are running strongly in 18 states, and four more are leaning GOP.

No states with a Republican governor are considered likely to elect a Democrat in November. But nine states now headed by Democrats - Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming - are seen as likely GOP pickups.

Ten states are currently viewed as Toss-Ups, including CaliforniaColorado and Connecticut. The Toss-Up states include six currently with GOP governors and four with Democrats as their chief executives.

This is what we found in last week's gubernatorial race surveys:

ARIZONA - Incumbent Republican Jan Brewer who has strongly championed the state's new immigration law remains well ahead of Democratic state Attorney General Terry Goddard who opposes the law. (Survey was taken Oct. 28) 

CALIFORNIA - Democrat Jerry Brown holds a slightly smaller lead over Republican Meg Whitman as this race tightens in the closing days. (Oct. 27) 

COLORADO - Republican candidate Dan Maes now has just single-digit support, but Democrat John Hickenlooper still holds a slight lead over independent candidate Tom Tancredo. (Oct. 28) 

CONNECTICUT - Down to the wire, it's Democrat Dan Malloy with only a three-point edge over Republican Thomas Foley. It's the closest the contest has been this year. (Oct. 24) 

FLORIDA - This race is a bit tighter as Election Day nears, with Republican Rick Scott holding a three-point lead over Democrat Alex Sink. (Oct. 27) 

GEORGIA - Republican Nathan Deal has a 10-point lead over Democrat Roy Barnes who hopes to reclaim the job he held from 1999 to 2003. (Oct. 24) 

MAINE - Two weeks earlier Republican Paul LePage slipped into a near tie with Democrat Libby Mitchell after news reports about some family tax problems and a sharply critical comment he made about the president. But now LePage has again jumped ahead, while Democrat-turned-Independent Eliot Cutler has risen to his highest level of support to date. (Oct. 26) 

MARYLAND - Incumbent Democrat Martin O'Malley now holds a 10-point lead over Republican challenger Bob Ehrlich in their rematch of the 2006 race. (Oct. 24) 

MASSACHUSETTS - The Massachusetts governor's race between incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick and GOP challenger Charlie Baker is now closer than it has been all year. Patrick doesn't seem to have benefited from a recent visit to the state by the president. (Oct. 27)

NEVADA - Republican Brian Sandoval has led Democrat Rory Reid, son of the embattled Senate majority leader, from the start and now is up by more than 20 points. (Oct. 25) 

NEW MEXICO - Republican prosecutor Susana Martinez again moves to a 10-point lead over Democratic Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish for the job now held by Democrat Bill Richardson. (Oct. 25) 

OHIO - Republican challenger John Kasich holds a slim lead over Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland in a race that seems to be mostly about the economy and the state's high unemployment rate. (Oct. 26) 

OREGON - This race remains a close one, with Republican Chris Dudley, a former professional basketball player and political newcomer, running three points ahead of Democrat John Kitzhaber, who previously served as governor from 1995 to 2003. (Oct. 25) 

SOUTH DAKOTA - Republican Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard continues to hold a sizable lead over Democratic State Senator Scott Heidepriem. (Oct. 20) 

TEXAS - Incumbent Republican Rick Perry who is seeking an unprecedented third full term has an eight-point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White, a former Houston mayor.  (Oct. 21) 

WISCONSIN - Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker now earns his highest level of support yet against Democrat Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukeee. (Oct. 25) 

Other surveys last week give a clearer sense of the environment these candidates are running in:

-- At week's end, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll finds that 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. Fifty-five percent (55%) disapprove.

-- The Ramsussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure daily confidence among these groups have regained some ground from recent losses but are merely back to levels recorded at the beginning of the year. 

-- Just 32% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction. Confidence in the nation's current course has been hovering around the 30% mark since last November.

-- Only 12% of voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Sixty-one percent (61%) rate their performance as poor.

-- The number of voters who view Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Very Unfavorably have reached their highest levels yet. 

-- A majority (53%) of voters continue to favor repeal of the new national health care law, and the number who sees this outcome as likely has reached a new high. Since Democrats in Congress passed the law in late March, support for repeal has ranged from a low of 53% to a high of 63%.

-- Republican candidates held a nine-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, October 24, 2010. That means 49% of respondents say they would vote for their district's Republican congressional candidate, while 40% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

-- Most voters (51%) think it's fair to describe the Democratic Party in Congress as the party of big government. Forty-seven percent (47%) say it's fair to describe the Republican Party in Congress as the party of big business.

-- A plurality (43%) now thinks that neither Democrats nor Republicans in Congress are the party of the American people. Nearly as many see a need for a new third party

-- Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters say most members of Congress get reelected not because they do a good job representing the folks at home but because election rules are rigged to their benefit. 

-- Three-quarters (76%) of American adults know someone who is out of work and looking for a job. Just 19% say the job market is getting better, but 42% say it's getting worse.

-- Voters overwhelmingly prefer a free market economy to an economy managed by the government and think government economic control helps big businesses at the expense of small ones. 

-- Most Americans agree with the statement that "it's always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money." 

-- Americans overwhelmingly anticipate that the federal government will have to dramatically cut spending like France and Britain are doing now, and a sizable number suggest that even Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid may have to be on the cutting block.

-- Roughly one-quarter of Americans say they receive some form of cash benefits from the government, and most are not willing to sacrifice any of that money to help cut the size of the federal budget. 

-- Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans think workers in the private sector work harder than government workers, and 59% think the average government worker earns more annually than the average taxpayer. 

-- Still, with all their complaints, most Americans would rather live here than anywhere else in the world.

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Remember, if it's in the news, it's in our polls. 

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Scott Rasmussen , president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

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