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What's the top issue for midterm election voters?

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

A month ahead of the midterm elections, voters choose the economy (34 percent) as the most important issue that will decide their vote for Congress. Health care comes in second (17 percent), closely followed by terrorism (16 percent). Both Republicans and Democrats choose the economy as the top issue.


While the economy may be the dominant issue, some have been critical of the Obama administration's terrorism policies and its approach to handling the threat from the militant group ISIS.

Thirty-six percent of Americans say the Obama administration's policies have made the country less safe from terrorism (matching an all-time high reached in June). Fewer - just 29 percent- think President Obama's policies have made the country safer. Thirty-one percent don't think the president's policies have made much of a difference.


Republicans are particularly critical. Sixty-four percent of Republicans think the president's policies have made the country less safe, while most Democrats (53 percent) think they have made the country safer.


Mr. Obama recently acknowledged the U.S. underestimated ISIS. Americans now give the president, Congress, and U.S. intelligence agencies low marks for assessing the threat posed by ISIS over the past few months, although U.S. intelligence agencies fare better than either Congress or the President.

Sixty-five percent think the president did just a fair or poor job assessing the threat from ISIS, and 77 percent say that about Congress.



This poll was conducted by telephone October 3-6, 2014 among 1,260 adults nationwide. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher.

Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News and The New York Times by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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