The Real Message of the Midterms
A sweeping election tends to invite sweeping conclusions — and the Democrats’ takeover of both houses of Congress this November provides a tempting array of opportunities for exaggeration or misinterpretation. With that in mind, let’s look at the major lessons to be gleaned from the exit polls and opinion polls about how America voted this November.
Centrists Deliver for Democrats
The key to the strong Democratic showing yesterday was the support their candidates drew from moderate and independent voters, an analysis of the exit polls shows. With more than nine-in-ten Republicans and Democrats casting ballots for representatives of their parties, just as they did two years ago, the Democrats’ 57%-39% advantage among independents proved crucial.
Democrats Score in Statehouses and Governors’ Mansions
For the first time since 1994, Democrats won control of a majority of the nation’s governors’ mansions, wresting away five Republican seats with unofficial results of the Nov. 7 election putting Democrats in charge in 28 states. Democratic gains also vastly outnumbered Republican gains in the nation’s state legislatures, enough to take control of legislative chambers in at least six states — including the New Hampshire House for the first time since at least 1922.
Mixed Messages on Ballot Measures
Even as seven more states on Election Day joined the 20 states that already had passed constitutional prohibitions on gay marriage, Arizona became the first state to reject a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage. South Dakota voters overrode a law that would have banned abortion in that state; anti-tax activists failed to impose limits on state spending in three states; and minimum wage hikes passed in six states.
Election ’06 – GOP Edge at Stake
Heading into Election Day, at least a dozen governors’ races and 14 of the most competitive statehouses are still up in the air, as Democrats aim to overturn the edge Republicans gained at the state level in 1994.
Republicans Cut Democratic Lead in Campaign’s Final Days
A nationwide Pew survey finds that the midterm election campaign has tightened considerably in the campaign’s final week. Among likely voters, 47% say they plan to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate on Tuesday and 43% say they plan to vote for a Republican.
Voter Turnout and Congressional Change
In recent decades, there have been three basic ways that turnout has worked to produce the sort of “big wave” midterm that the Democrats are hoping for next week.
Cell-Only Voters Not Very Different
Political pollsters continue to cast a wary eye on the growing number of Americans who use only a cell phone and have no landline. The Pew Research Center estimates that this group now constitutes one-in-ten adults. But three Pew surveys of cell-only Americans this year have found that their absence from landline surveys is not creating a measurable bias in the bottom-line findings.
Can Safe Seats Save the Republicans?
One of the biggest political questions in the final weeks of this Congressional campaign is whether the national trend in support for Democratic candidates is big enough to overcome the safe-seat redistricting that in recent years has led to fewer and fewer seats turning over in Congress.
Growing Number of Liberal Democrats
About one-third of Democratic voters now describe themselves as liberal, an increase since 2000, when just one-in-four Democrats self-identified with the “L-word.” Meantime, some 41% of Democrats now call themselves moderate and 23% say they are conservatives.