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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Summing Up Voter Atttitudes

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.

Karlyn Bowman and Eleanor O'Neil sum up 2018 polls at AEI:
  • Top issue for the country: Health care was the top issue for voters, followed by immigration, the economy, and gun policy. Voters who supported Democratic House candidates in 2018 gave top priority to health care; those who supported Republicans gave it to immigration. In the AP VoteCast survey, which asked about a greater variety of issues, the top four issues were the same as those asked about in the exit poll, and they ranked in the same order.
  • Voters’ views: Nearly 7 in 10 voters said the health care system needs major changes in the exit poll. In the AP VoteCast survey, a quarter wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act entirely, 27 percent wanted to repeal parts of it, 13 percent wanted to leave the law as it is, and 34 percent wanted to expand it. In the exit poll, 46 percent of voters said Trump’s immigration policies were too tough; 17 percent thought they were not tough enough. In the AP VoteCast survey, 69 percent wanted to offer illegal immigrants a chance to apply for legal status; 30 percent wanted to deport them. Forty-eight percent favored building a US-Mexico border wall; 52 percent were opposed. Fifty-nine percent in the exit poll said they supported stricter gun control measures; 37 percent did not. 
  • Increasing importance: In recent off-year elections, more voters have said the president was a factor in their vote for Congress than gave that response in past years. Twenty-six percent of voters this year said that one reason for their vote was to express support for Donald Trump, 38 percent said it was to express opposition to him, and a third said he was not a factor.
  • Kavanaugh: Forty-three percent of voters supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation, while 47 percent were opposed. The exit poll asked voters in seven states where there was a key Senate contest whether the incumbent senator’s vote for or against Kavanaugh’s confirmation was an important factor in their vote. Only in the Nevada race did a majority say Dean Heller’s vote to confirm him was an important factor.
  • The gender and marriage gaps: Men voted narrowly for Republican House candidates in 2018, while women voted solidly for Democratic ones. Married voters supported Democrats narrowly, a significant change from recent off-year elections in which they were more Republican. Not married voters were solidly Democratic.
  • Independents and moderates: Independent voters are key. In 2006, independent voters voted for Democratic House candidates, and in 2010 and 2014, they voted for Republicans. This year, 54 percent told exit pollsters they voted for Democratic House candidates, and 42 percent voted for Republican House candidates. Self-identified moderates have been more likely to vote for Democratic House candidates than Republican ones in all recent off-year elections.
  • Divided by education, urbanity: Fifty-nine percent of college graduates voted for Democratic House candidates in 2018, compared to 47 percent who did in 2014. In 2018, voters without a college degree were evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Sixty-five percent of voters in cities with populations over 50,000 voted for Democratic House candidates in 2018, compared to 56 percent in 2014. In 2018, 56 percent of voters in small cities and rural areas supported Democrats.