ABC News(NEW YORK) — As the polls are set to close in many states, preliminary exit poll results show a deep divide along party lines:
In preliminary exit poll results, turnout among nonwhites is a record 40 percent, including 30 percent black voters. The previous high among nonwhites was 36 percent in 2014 – compared with just 18 percent in 1994.
42 percent of voters are conservatives, which is typical in Georgia. Liberals account for 20 percent, a new high for a gubernatorial election if it holds. It was 17 percent in 2014.
39 percent say Stacey Abrams (D) is too liberal; 36 percent say Brian Kemp (R) is too conservative.
Donald Trump’s approval rating is 51 percent among Georgia voters, 7 points better than his overall approval nationally. 20 percent say they’re voting to show support for Trump; 15 percent, to oppose him.
74 percent call it important to elect more women to public office; that compares with 78 percent nationally.
There's greater concern about voter suppression than voter fraud, 51-41 percent, a key topic in this contest.
While the women’s vote gets a lot of attention, men in Georgia are splitting about evenly, 46-49, Abrams-Kemp. In the last two gubernatorial elections for which we have exit polls (2014 and 2006), the winning Republican candidates won men by 60-37 and 61-34 percent.
Independents, historically a swing voter group in Georgia, divide 55-41 percent, Abrams-Kemp.
Georgia’s suburban voters are voting 43-54 percent, Abrams-Kemp – including advantages for Kemp among suburban women (46-53 percent) and suburban men (40-54 percent) alike.
Libertarian Ted Metz has 3 percent support, worth watching because Georgia requires candidates to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win an election.
The race is a test case for Kavanaugh impact: 53 percent call incumbent Joe Donnelly’s (D) vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation important in their vote; 19 percent call it a minor factor, 22 percent not a factor at all. We’ll see how they voted after the polls close.
Donald Trump has a 52-48 percent approval rating in a state he won by 19 points in 2016. (Native son Mike Pence has a 54-43 percent favorability rating.) Thirty percent say they’re voting to show support for Trump, 34 percent to oppose him, while 32 percent say he’s not a factor.
73 percent of Hoosier voters say the national economy is doing well but local conditions are less broadly positive. Forty-six percent say their own finances have improved since Trump took office, 36 percent say they’ve benefited from the Trump tax law and 29 percent say his trade policies have helped their local economy.
42 percent say health care is the top issue of four facing the country. And voters divide 50-44 percent on which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, would better protect pre-existing condition coverage.
Trump’s pushed immigration hard – but it’s the top issue to just 26 percent, far trailing health care. (The economy comes in at 21 percent.) More say that his immigration policies are too tough, 41 percent, than about right, 34 percent, or not tough enough, 21 percent.
Donnelly won his seat in 2012 partly on the strength of an 11-point victory among independent voters. Independents are voting 52-40 percent between Donnelly and Mike Braun (R) in preliminary results tonight. They account for 32 percent of voters – if it holds, a new high in available exit poll data.
Donnelly ran evenly among men in 2012. Today they’re voting 42-54 percent, Donnelly-Braun.
Suburban voters divide 48-49 percent, Donnelly-Braun. Donnelly won suburbanites by a scant 2 points in 2012; in 2016, fellow Democrat Evan Bayh lost suburbanites by 17 points and lost the race. Suburban women are voting 52-43 percent, compared with suburban men, 43-54 percent.
Health care/immigration showdown: The vote is 74-22 percent Donnelly-Braun among those who picked health care as the top issue of four; that compares with 11-84 percent among the 26 percent who picked immigration as the top issue.
Those who call Donnelly’s vote against Kavanaugh highly important divide by 41-54 percent, Donnelly-Braun.
Libertarian Lucy Brenton has 4 percent of the vote, compared with 6 percent for Libertarian Andy Horning in 2012. Indiana Democrats ran ads highlighting Brenton’s policy positions during the campaign, seeking to draw conservative votes her way.
Donald Trump has a split-decision 49-49 percent job approval rating among Ohio voters today, in a state he won by 8 points in 2016. Those who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve by 7 points, 43-36 percent.
Democrats were outnumbered by Republicans among Ohio voters by 3 points in 2016, 34-37 percent, and it’s the same gap again today, 35-38 percent.
Conservatives accounted for a plurality of Ohio voters, 43 percent, in the 2014 gubernatorial race and 39 percent two years ago. Today, in data so far, they account for fewer voters, 37 percent.
The national economy is well-rated – 73 percent in Ohio say it’s in excellent or good shape, up dramatically from 34 percent in 2016 – but far fewer say Trump’s trade policies have helped their local economy (30 percent) or say his tax law has helped their own finances (28 percent).
Ohio voters pick health care as the top issue facing the country out of four choices offered; 41 percent choose it, far above the other choices. In a health-related issue – one that played prominently in the campaign – there’s vast concern about the government response to the opioid crisis – 28 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove.
West Virginia voted 69-26 percent for Trump in 2016, his best state; today voters there give him a 63-34 percent job approval rating – his best approval rating in any of the 21 states where exit polls are being conducted.
In terms of basic popularity: Joe Manchin’s (D) favorability rating is 49-47 percent. Patrick Morrisey’s (R) is a weaker 40-55 percent, 15 points under water. It could matter, since 25 percent say they’re looking chiefly for the candidate who “cares about people like me.”
Democrats’ share of the West Virginia electorate has dived from 57 percent in 1996 to 32 percent now, a new low. Turnout by independents has grown – from 14 percent in 1996 to 31 percent today, a new high. Manchin won independents by 7 points in 2010, a key to his victory.
Manchin was the only Democratic senator to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. 40 percent of voters say Manchin’s vote was a key factor in their Senate vote. Twenty-two percent call it a minor factor; 34 percent, not a factor at all.
Among the state’s voters overall, 40 percent say Trump’s trade policies have helped their local economy (22 percent hurt, 33 percent no impact).
Manchin slammed Morrisey for joining a lawsuit to repeal Obamacare and limit coverage for pre-existing conditions. Today 40 percent call health care the top issue (of four) in their vote, and voters divide 41-51 percent on which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, would better protect coverage for pre-existing conditions.
44 percent of Florida voters say Andrew Gillum (D) is too liberal, while 37 percent say Ron DeSantis (R) is too conservative.
Liberals account for 22 percent of voters, matching their high in governor’s races in the state. Many more, 39 percent, are conservatives.
Donald Trump won Florida with 48 percent of the vote in 2017. He’s got a 51-48 percent approval rating now. Voters reject impeachment, which Gillum has supported, by 54-40 percent.
Nonwhites account for 34 percent of voters in the state, including 15 percent Hispanics and 13 percent blacks. That’s a new high for midterm elections in the state, albeit short of its 2016 record, 38 percent. While much attention often is paid to the Republican-leaning Cuban-American vote, 67 percent of Hispanic voters in this election are not Cuban.
National Exit Poll
Donald Trump and control of Congress are front and center in this election, and preliminary results from the state and national exit polls touch on both of them:
In results so far, 44 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 55 percent disapprove.
And while the House races will be fought district by district, voters by 53-43 percent say they’d rather see the Democrats than the Republicans in control of the House after this election.
Antipathy toward Trump doesn’t reach majority support for impeachment – 41 percent of voters support impeaching the president and removing him from office, with 55 percent opposed. Still, 39 percent say they cast their ballots to show opposition to Trump, vs. 26 percent who say they voted to show him support. (33 percent say he didn’t figure in their vote.)
There are vast divisions among groups on Trump and control of Congress, and voters recognize today’s political polarization. 77 percent say Americans are becoming more politically divided, while just 8 percent see greater unity. (13 percent see no change.)
Indeed, even with the economy its best in decades by many measures, just 41 percent say the country is headed in the right direction, while 56 percent say it’s seriously off on the wrong track. There’s a huge gulf between Republicans and Democrats on the question, but among independents, often swing voters, 58 percent say wrong track vs. 39 percent right direction.
While preliminary exit poll results indicate a preference for Democratic control of the House, neither party is beloved. Voters divide 50-46 percent in favorable vs. unfavorable views of the Democratic Party. The GOP fares worse – 43-54 percent, favorable-unfavorable. Nancy Pelosi, a Republican bugaboo in the campaign, trails her party’s favorability rating – and Trump's approval rating – at 31-55 percent, favorable-unfavorable.
In one more eye-opening preliminary result: 51 percent of voters today say the government has not done enough to protect this election from foreign interference.
In terms of group sizes – which can change, these are preliminary results only:
Party ID: Democrats account for 38 percent of voters in exit poll results so far, Republicans for 32 percent and independents for 30 percent. That compares with 36-37-27 percent in 2014, and 37-33-29 percent in 2016.
Ideology: Liberal-moderate-conservative group sizes in results so far are 27-38-36 percent. That compares with 22-39-38 percent in the 2014 midterms. (And 26-38-36 percent in 2016.)
Sex: Women account for 52 percent of voters in preliminary results, matching their previous high in a midterm from 2010.
Race: Nonwhites account for 28 percent of voters nationally in preliminary results. The highest in any previous midterm was 25 percent in 2014. These compare with a low of 9 percent in 1990.
Among key issues in the campaign – beyond Trump himself – preliminary exit poll results indicate the following:
Immigration: With the Central American caravan drawing broad attention in the campaign, voters divide on Trump’s immigration policies – 48 percent say they’re too tough, 32 percent say they’re about right and 16 percent say they’re not tough enough.
Health care: Voters by 58-34 percent pick the Democratic Party over the Republicans as more likely to protect health care for people with pre-existing conditions, another central focus of the 2018 campaign.
Further, given a choice of four issues, 41 percent pick health care as the top issue facing the country, compared with 21 percent for the economy, 23 percent immigration and 11 percent gun policy. (We’ll look at vote preferences in each group as the night proceeds.)
Kavanaugh: Any impact of the controversial confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court may come down to state-to-state races. Nationally, the country divides – 43 percent support his confirmation, 48 percent oppose it in preliminary exit poll results.
Tax and trade: Two of the president’s signature economic policies get a mixed reception. Fewer than a third of voters, 28 percent, say they’ve been helped by the Trump tax law (45 percent no impact, 23 percent hurt by it.) And just 25 percent say Trump’s trade policies have helped their local economy. 31 percent say they’ve hurt, 36 percent say they've had no effect.
Women: As noted, women account for 52 percent of voters in preliminary results, matching their previous midterm high from 2010. And there’s a tremendous gender gap in views of president Trump’s work in office: While men voting today divide 50-49 percent on Trump, approve-disapprove, that goes to 39-60 percent among women voters. And while 57 percent of men approve of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, just 43 percent of women agree.
Sharp gender differences extend elsewhere. Voters by 78-20 percent call it important to elect more women to public office; 53 percent of women call it “very” important, vs. do 37 percent of men. That may play out in the unusual number of races including female candidates this year.
And 84 percent of voters today call sexual harassment a serious problem in the United States, including 47 percent who call it very serious. 52 percent of women vs. 40 percent of men call sexual harassment a very serious problem. In an even bigger gap, 64 percent of Democrats call it very serious, vs. 40 percent of independents and 29 percent of Republicans.
More On Groups And Issues
Race: Turnout by racial and ethnic minorities is key to Democrats’ chances in many contests. Preliminary exit poll results can change, but in these early results nonwhites account for 28 percent of voters nationally; as noted, the highest in any midterm was 25 percent in 2014. That nonwhite total includes 11 percent blacks and 11 percent Hispanics. The previous highs in midterm elections were 13 percent for blacks, in 2014; and 8 percent for Hispanics, in 2006, 2012 and 2014 alike.
With black candidates in several high-profile races, voters nationally by 71-24 percent say it’s important to elect more racial and ethnic minorities to public office; 44 percent say it’s very important. It’s very important to 61 percent of nonwhites, compared with 38 percent of whites.
There’s also a sharp division – as much political as racial and ethnic – in whether voters think whites are favored over minorities, minorities are favored over whites, or no group is favored. Among Democrats, 71 percent think whites are favored over minorities. Among Republicans, just 10 percent agree.
Voting: Ballot access is a related issue: In these preliminary results, the public by 54-36 percent sees voter suppression as a bigger concern than vote fraud.
Age: Will young and first-time voters make a difference this year? Patterns of when people vote mean this can change, but in preliminary results 18- to 29-year-olds account for 13 percent of voters nationally today; it was 11 percent in 2014, when they backed Democrats for House by a 12-point margin.
Economy: 68 percent of voters say the economy is in excellent or good condition, up dramatically from 36 percent just two years ago, albeit far below the peak, 85 percent, in 2000. Many fewer, though, say their own financial situation has improved in the past two years: 35 percent, compared with 30 percent two years ago.
What typically matters most is people who say they’re worse off: 14 percent in today’s preliminary results. It was 26 percent in 2014; what mattered is that they favored Republicans for House – then voting against the president’s party – by 67-31 percent.
Mueller/Election Security: In the investigation still hanging over the Trump White House:
Voters divide on Robert Mueller’s handling of his investigation, 42-46 percent, approve-disapprove.
Voters by 53-43 percent say the Mueller investigation is mostly politically motivated rather than justified.
Gun Ownership: 47 percent of voters live in gun-owning households in preliminary exit poll results.
Stricter Gun Control Measures: 60-35 percent, support-oppose. Among those in gun-owning households, 42-52 percent.
Veterans: 14 percent of voters, preliminarily.
White Evangelical Christians: 27 percent of voters, preliminarily. The previous midterm peak was 27 percent in 2014. One of the most Republican groups, they voted 83-16 percent for House candidates in 2016, and 78-21 percent in 2014.
LGBT Voters: 6 percent of all voters in results so far, compared with 4 percent in the last two elections.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.