The Democrats' big win on Nov. 7 has gotten a highly favorable response from the public. In fact, initial reactions to the Democratic victory are as positive as they were to the GOP's electoral sweep of Congress a dozen years ago.
With roughly 95% of the votes tallied so far in House races across the country, the overall partisan breakdown is 52% for Democratic candidates, 46% for Republican candidates and 2% for others. In actual votes, Democratic House candidates in 2006 have already tallied nearly 5 million more votes than they did in 2002, while the Republican tally is down more than 3 million from four years ago.
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.
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.
The concern among some politicians and political experts over the lack of competitiveness in U.S. elections is generally not shared by the public. Moreover, voters appear to lack a clear sense of whether the elections in their own House districts are competitive or not.
Not often, two political scientists found. Plus, economists say they know why tall people earn more.
Approval ratings and reelect numbers are way down.
Belief that this Congress has accomplished less than its predecessors is higher than at any point in the past nine years; Republican leaders take the blame.
Allegations of corruption are fueling political discontent among independents, who are unhappy with Congress in general and their own representatives in particular.