For the first time ever, three Latino candidates -- all of them Republicans -- won top statewide offices. Despite these GOP wins, Latino voters supported Democrats by nearly a two-to-one margin.
Following voting trends, white Protestants voted overwhelmingly Republican and religiously unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats. But Catholic voters swung to the GOP, and Republicans made gains in all three groups.
Republicans continue to hold a solid lead in preferences for Tuesday's midterm elections among likely voters -- enough so as to suggest they will win control of the House. The GOP owes its lead to strong backing from independents and record-levels of engagement among its partisans.
Two factors have emerged as major potential negatives for congressional candidates: TARP and Sarah Palin. Americans are split over whether they are more likely to vote for candidates who supported the health care law.
Less than two years ago, Democrats basked in the glow of an impressive political triumph. Today, they are contemplating the very real prospect of losing their House majority. What happened?
In a year when support for Democratic candidates has eroded, the party's standing among Latinos appears as strong as ever. However, Hispanic voters appear to be less motivated than others to go to the polls.
For the third national election in a row, independent voters may be poised to vote out the party in power. Political independents now favor GOP candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008. The "independent vote," however, is in no way monolithic; this is not surprising given that most independents are recent refugees from the two major parties.
Republicans are more likely to say this year's election is more important than most and that news coverage of politics makes them angry. They are also more upbeat about their preferred candidates' chances in November than are Democrats or independents.
Across party lines, the public sees earmarking by their congressional candidates as more of an asset than a liability. Americans are divided on the value of Obama in November, while both Palin's support and Tea Party affiliation are seen by more as negative than positive. On energy, public backs a wide range of goals and policies.
In broad terms, voters view the Democratic Party's ideology as the opposite of the Republican Party's: 58% say the Democratic Party is either very liberal or liberal while 56% say the GOP is either very conservative or conservative.