WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans voting Tuesday were unhappy or even angry with the Obama administration, exit polls show. But most were upset with Republican leaders, too.
The biggest concern is still the economy, the surveys of people leaving polling places showed, six years after the 2008 financial crisis helped propel President Barack Obama into his first term in office.
Most voters say the economy is stagnating or getting worse. Just 1 in 5 say they trust the government to do what is right most or all of the time, slightly fewer than in the 1994 midterms, when Republicans seized control of the House and Senate, and the last time the exit poll asked that question.
Most midterm voters were pessimistic. They were more than twice as likely to say that life will be worse for the next generation than to say things will get better.
Republicans were getting some of the blame, however. About a quarter of voters say they are dissatisfied or angry with both GOP leaders in Congress and Obama, whose name isn’t on the ballot. Another 6 in 10 are unhappy with one or the other of them.
A look at what’s on voters’ minds:
ISSUES CUT BOTH WAYS
The preliminary exit poll shows voters embracing some Republican ideas. Most think the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals. They feel the nation is seriously off on the wrong track.
At the same time, on many issues, voters take positions that seem to align more with the Democratic Party.
Majorities favor a way for those who are in the country illegally to stay. Most also approve of Obama’s military action against the Islamic State group. They think abortion ought to be legal in most cases, consider climate change a serious problem, and say the economic system favors the wealthy.
People who said health care is their top issue were about as likely to say Obama’s health care overhaul didn’t go far enough as to say it went too far.
Nearly two-thirds think the U.S. economic system favors the wealthy, a common theme among Democratic candidates.
A whopping 8 in 10 disapprove of the way Congress, currently divided between Republicans and Democrats, is doing its job, according to preliminary exit polls.
Half disapprove of Obama’s job performance.
The anti-Obama feeling was a significant drag on Democrats: about a third of voters said their congressional vote was partly a repudiation of Obama. Significantly fewer — 1 in 5 — said their House vote was partly an endorsement of Obama.
As for the feuding, gridlocked party politics in Washington, more than half of voters have an unfavorable opinions of Democrats and more than half feel unfavorably about Republicans.
About 1 in 5 voters don’t like either one.
IT’S THE ECONOMY, STILL
An economy that’s yet to recover its moxie since the 2008 financial crisis remains the big issue for nearly half of voters. Health care, in contrast, was the top issue for a fourth of those surveyed.
Despite the stock market’s recovery and improvements in hiring, most say the U.S. economy is stagnating or even getting worse these days. Those voters were more likely to vote for Republican congressional candidates.
About a third say the economy is improving, and they mostly backed Democrats.
A big reason voters feel glum: half say their own family’s financial situation hasn’t improved over the past two years, and a fourth say it’s gotten worse.
Still, the number who feel their family’s finances are better has improved from 2010, when Americans were still reeling from the recession and Republicans took control of the House. At that time, only 15 percent said their family’s outlook had improved. About a fourth say things are better today.
The survey of 11,522 voters nationwide was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 281 precincts Tuesday, as well as 3,113 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 24 through Nov. 2. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.