Pew Forum Senior Fellow John Green and American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Karlyn Bowman analyze polling data to address such issues as whether Democrats closed the "God gap," which religious groups were "in play" this election, and whether or not religion polarizes voters.
Widely cited findings from the national exit polls suggest Latinos tilted heavily Democratic in the 2006 election, taking back most of the support they had granted the Republicans just two years earlier. Does that mean the Latinos who flirted with the Republican Party are now firmly back in the Democratic camp?
In the aftermath of the 2006 election, the shifting allegiance of some important voter groups has gotten relatively little attention. One of the biggest stories is about young people. Another is what really happened to "The God Gap." And a third is about the one-fifth of voters who aren't white.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.