The first wave of exit polls Tuesday told us what the pre-election polls did: voters are unhappy with the way the federal government is working and majorities have negative views of both major parties, according to the Associated Press
The economy is by far and away the overriding issue of the campaign, with about a third of those surveyed saying someone in their household had lost a job during the past few years. Four in 10 consider themselves worse off financially than they were two years ago and an overwhelming majority are concerned that the economy might get worse in the coming year.
Sixty-two percent say the country is on the wrong track compared to 35 percent who think it's headed in the right direction.
that 62 percent named the economy as the most important issue, followed by health care at 19 percent, illegal immigration at 8 percent and Afghanistan at 7 percent.
However, as other polls have shown, voters are not ready to put most of the blame on President Obama, although about half believe his policies are not good for the country.
Thirty-five percent put most of the blame for the economy on Wall Street, while 29 percent blamed former President Bush. Twenty-four percent said Obama was responsible for current conditions, according to CNN
Voters had mixed opinions on the economic impact of the big stimulus package approved last year. Thirty-four percent said it had hurt the economy, 33 percent said it helped and 31 percent said it had made no difference, according to CBS News
The New York Times
said the exit polls showed that for those voters who were motivated by the desire to send a signal about Obama's policies more were likely to describe it as a vote against those policies rather than in support of them.
Fifty-four percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing while 45 percent approve, according to CNN.
Roughly four in 10 voters say they support the tea party movement and those who do mostly backed the Republicans.
In other findings:
-- There's a big divide between Democrats and Republicans on the role of government and health care reform. Two of three Democrats say government isn't doing enough while four of five Republicans say it's doing too much. Sixty-one percent of Democrats want to expand the health care law while 82 percent of Republicans want to repeal it. When it comes to the overall electorate, 48 percent favor repeal, 31 percent want the measure expanded and 16 percent say it should be left as is.
-- Voters describing themselves as conservatives made up 41 percent of the electorate Tuesday, twice the number of those who said they were liberals, according to the New York Times. In the 2006 midterms, 32 percent described themselves as conservatives.
-- Republicans enjoyed a 15 point advantage over Democrats among independents. Independents had favored Democrats by significant margins in 2008 and 2006.
-- In exit polls from Kentucky, half of voters say they had reservations about the candidate they backed today in the Senate race between Republican Rand Paul, who has been projected as the winner, and Democrat Jack Conway, according to CNN
. Three-quarters of voters described themselves as dissatisfied or angry with the federal government, and they voted for Paul by a nearly two-to-one margin. Of the 62 percent of voters who said they disliked Obama, 82 percent backed Paul. A plurality of Kentucky voters (43 percent) said they supported the Tea Party movement.
-- Aside from the controversies surrounding her candidacy, Republican Christine O'Donnell, who scored an upset to win the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware lost as expected to Democrat Chris Coons, who had the further advantage of running in a state where the overall electorate is not congenial to Tea Partiers. The exit poll showed that nearly half of the state's voters consider themselves to be moderates , 58 percent approve of Obama's performance, and 36 percent strongly oppose the tea party movement. While pre-election polls suggested that longtime Republican Rep. Mike Castle would have won if he was the candidate, the exit poll says Coons would have edged him by 44 percent to 43 percent.
-- In Wisconsin, Republican newcomer Ron Johnson beat Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold in the Senate race with the help of independents
who backed him by 55 percent to 43 percent, with 2 percent undecided. Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in the state.
The exit poll was conducted in 268 voting precincts across the nation on Tuesday, and supplemented with interviews done Oct. 22-31 with people who voted early or by absentee ballot.