Democrats who want to avoid a bad night at the polls aren’t getting the signs they want. We might not know how the balance of power will change in Washington and state capitals for hours or even weeks, but exit poll data gives us some early clues:
Even though the White House is doing its best, President Joe Biden’s approval rating is still below 50 per cent, inflation is more popular than abortion, and voters have a pretty negative view of the state of the country.
In what is likely to be another long election, the first polls closed at 6 p.m. But as the numbers come in, here’s what we know about who voted in 2022 and what issues were most important to them.
The voters are unhappy.
Almost three-quarters of voters are “dissatisfied” or “downright angry” about how things are going in the country. Three-quarters of those who voted say that the economy is “not so good” or “in poor shape.” Even more, 78 per cent, said that inflation has made life “moderately” to “severely” hard for their families.
Even if you don’t consider Biden’s low approval ratings, these early exit poll numbers show a dissatisfied electorate that might be ready to try something new in the next two years.
Biden’s approval numbers are still sagging
In politics, it’s a hard-and-fast rule that the president’s party does badly in midterm years, and so far, voters are sticking to the script: The National Election Pool exit polls, which were reported by NBC News and CNN, show that 45 per cent of those polled like the president and 54 per cent don’t.
When people say what they think about the president’s policies, the numbers aren’t much better. 46% of people said that his policies hurt them, 36% said they helped them, and 16% said they didn’t make a difference.
.@maricopavote has identified the solution for the tabulation issues at about 60 Vote Centers. County technicians have changed the printer settings, which seems to have resolved this issue. It appears some of the printers were not producing dark enough timing marks on ballots. 1/
— Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) November 8, 2022
It’s still about the economy, duh.
In surveys of the whole country and of states that are close to being decided, inflation has been ahead of abortion for months. Now, the first exit polls show the same thing.
32% of voters said inflation was the most important factor in how they voted, and 27% said abortion was the most important factor. Then came three issues that tend to be good for Republicans: crime, gun policies, and immigration. Each of these got 12 per cent.
But abortion could still be a reason for people to vote for Democrats, which could be a good sign: Sixty per cent of the people polled said that they are unhappy or angry that Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Voters are older and mostly white.
Another bad sign for Democrats is that more white people and older people are voting than in 2020. Early polls show that on Tuesday, 76 per cent of voters across the country said they were white, 9 per cent were black, 10 per cent were Latino, 2 per cent were Asian, 1 per cent were Native American, and 2 per cent were from other racial or ethnic groups. The number of white voters is much higher than in 2020 when only 67 per cent of voters said they were white.
10 per cent of voters were between the ages of 18 and 29, 20 per cent were between 30 and 44, 36 per cent were between 45 and 64, and 34 per cent were 65 or older. In 2020, only 22 per cent of voters were 65 or older. Early numbers also showed that the electorate was split, with 35% of Republicans, 34% of Democrats, and 31% of Independents.
Voters all agree that democracy is in danger, but for different reasons.
Since the attack on the Capitol on January 6, voters have not been able to cast ballots until Tuesday. Democracy was one of the top issues for Democrats in 2022, and it was the main focus of Biden’s last midterm campaign. He warned that “democracy itself” is on the ballot, a reference to the number of candidates who seem likely to win who don’t believe in elections.
Both parties’ voters 72% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans agree that democracy in the United States is “threatened.” They don’t agree on what that threat is, though. Even though courts and election officials have not found widespread evidence of fraud, two-thirds of Republicans are still sceptical that Biden will win in 2020. Almost all Democrats (96%) agreed that the president fairly won the last election.
When voters were asked how confident they were in the current elections system, another partisan divide was found: 29 per cent of Republicans said they weren’t sure that elections in their states were fair and accurate, but only 5 per cent of Democrats said the same.