2010 Elections Exit Poll Analysis: The Political Price of Economic Pain

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PRIORITIES: More Illinois Senate voters said they think that Congress' top priority should be to spend money to create jobs (41 percent) -- a group who went for Democrat Alexi Giannoulias by 73-22 percent -- than reduce the budget deficit (36 percent) or cut taxes (18). (As a Congressman, Kirk voted against the stimulus bill). However, those who preferred either reducing the deficit or cutting taxes went for Kirk overwhelmingly.

MISSOURI

PARTY ID: Republican Roy Blunt captured the Senate seat here in large part by beating Democrat Robin Carnahan by a double-digit margin among independents 56-35 percent. Carnahan won by 89-8 percent among Democrats. Roy Blunt won 94-4 percent among Republicans Likewise, Blunt won among moderates (55-41), and conservatives (84-11). Carnahan won among liberals 84-14, but only 20 percent of Missouri voters identified themselves as liberal.

OBAMA: Those who approve of Obama voted for Carnahan 88-10 percent, but those who disapprove of Obama ? the majority of Missouri voters - voted for Blunt, 83-12 percent.

HEALTH CARE: Those who think the health care law should be repealed voted 84-13 percent in favor of Blunt. Those who think it should be expanded voted 90-8 in favor of Carnahan. But those believing it should be repealed outnumbered those who think it should be expanded by 2-1.

THE STIMULUS: Voters who think the stimulus has helped the economy voted 89-10 percent in favor of Carnahan, but the greater number who think it hurt the economy or made no difference voted in favor of Blunt (hurt the economy: 83-12, made no difference: 54-38).

ROLE OF GOVERNMENT: The 53 percent of Missouri voters who feel that the government is doing too many things voted in favor of Blunt by 75-22 percent. The 45 percent who think the government should be doing more voted for Carnahan by an almost identical 76-21 percent. There just were fewer of them.

NEVADA

REID DISAPPROVAL: Consider the challenges facing Democratic incumbent Harry Reid: 56 percent of Nevada voters disapproved of the job he is doing in the Senate, with strong disapprovers outnumbering strong approvers by better than two to one (44 percent compared to 17 percent). And 55 percent said they think the Senate majority leader has been in Washington too long. Both those make his re-election remarkable.

GROUND GAME: Reid came back on other grounds. A narrow majority of voters (52 percent) said they prefer an insider who knows how to get things done over an outsider "who wants to shake things up" (40 percent). And Democrats hoped for much out of Reid's ground game, expanded from Obama's 2008 effort in the state. It delivered: While only 10 percent said they decided in the last week, Reid won that group by nearly 2-1 -- 58 percent to 32 percent. Republican Sharron Angle came about even among those who decided before then.

TURNOUT: There was no Republican surge in turnout. The partisan makeup of the electorate looked much like it did in 2008, a year in which Obama won the state with 55 percent of the vote. Overall, 34 percent said they were Democrats, 33 percent Republicans and 32 percent independents. And if anything, Republicans made up a smaller share of the electorate this time than they did in Reid's last race, in which he did not have a strong GOP challenger. (The electorate did look somewhat more conservative than in Reid's last race.)

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