Americans pessimistic heading into Election Day 2010 -- but about what issues?

An opinion poll released ahead of Election Day 2010 suggests that 3 in 4 Americans think things in the US are going badly. That's the highest-ever number for the poll on an election eve.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Obama held a backyard conversation on women and the economy in Seattle on Oct. 2. The economy is the primary concern of most Americans the day before Election 2010.

A CNN poll released Monday leaves little doubt about the mood of the electorate on the eve of Election 2010. According to the poll, 75 percent of Americans say things are going badly. Never in the history of the poll – which began in the mid-1970s – has that number been so high the day before an election.

Specifically, 48 percent of respondents said things are going pretty badly, and 27 percent said that they were going very badly. Three percent said things are going very well; 22 percent said they are going pretty well.

There is little mystery what has so many Americans so pessimistic: the economy. More than half of those surveyed – 52 percent – cited the economy as the most important issue facing the country today, according to the poll, which was conducted from Oct. 27 to 30.

Yet these historic levels of preelection dissatisfaction pointed to significant concern surrounding issues on the margins, as well.

The budget deficit, education, health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and illegal immigration were each cited as the most important issue facing the US by 8 percent of respondents. Terrorism and energy/environmental politics rounded out the survey with 4 percent each.

During this election season, the Monitor has sought to foster intelligent debate on many of these issues that matter to voters – from jobs to illegal immigration.

"Immigration laws exist for a very good reason: Excessive levels of immigration can have a profoundly negative impact on the receiving society," says Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform in our One Minute Debate on immigration reform.

Counters Michele Waslin of the Immigration Policy Center: "Legalized immigrants will earn more, pay more taxes, consume more, buy houses, start businesses, and contribute more to the economy."

For a brief but well-informed take on both sides of the issues that are most troubling Americans, click on one of the links below.

One Minute Debates:

What's the best way to create more jobs?

Should all the Bush tax cuts be extended?

Is the war in Afghanistan still worth fighting?

Should America's illegal immigrants be offered legal status?

Should health-care reform be repealed?

What's the best way to promote safer, cleaner energy?

Should California legalize pot?

Should Congress regulate political ad money?

What’s the best way to modernize our transportation?

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