Midterm Elections 2014: National Exit Poll Reveals Major Voter Discontent

PHOTO: Dozens of voters were lined up at the door as soon as the polling place at Chief Joseph School of the Arts in Meridian, Idaho, Nov. 4, 2014.PlayKatherine Jones/The Idaho Statesman/AP Photo
WATCH Pessimistic Voter View Going Into Midterm Elections

Voters across the nation expressed significant discontent with the government in preliminary national exit poll data.

In fact, 34 percent of voters expressed that they were voting in opposition of President Obama today and 61 percent expressed that they were dissatisfied or even angry with the Republican leaders in Congress.

Not surprisingly, the economy seems to be the most important issue to voters, but Ebola, gay marriage and marijuana legalization did not fall far behind.

Below are the most interesting numbers coming out of the 2014 national exit polls below. Note: Numbers will change as the exit polls are updated.


• Voters by 65-31 percent say the country is headed seriously off on the wrong track rather than in the right direction. “Wrong track” numbers are 12 points more negative than two years ago, and are their second highest in available exit poll data back to 1990, trailing only the discontent of the 2008 election. “Wrong track” sentiment in past midterm elections has related strongly to losses by the incumbent president’s party.

• More voters disapprove than approve of Barack Obama’s job performance as president, 54-44 percent. His approval rating is down by 10 points vs. 2012, looking much like it did in his first midterm election in 2010, when his party lost 63 House seats. Disapproval of the president has related closely to losses by his party in past midterms.

• Just two in 10 voters trust the government in Washington to do what’s right all or most of the time.


• 45 percent say the economy is the most important issue in their vote (out of four choices). That’s down from 2012 when 59 percent chose it and 2010, and 2008, when 63 percent said it was their top issue – but still a big number.

• Half of voters expect life for the next generation of Americans to be worse, by far the most to say so in exit polls asking the question back to 1996.

• Seven in 10 voters say the nation’s economy is in bad shape, fewer than in 2012, 2010 and 2008 -– but still seven in 10.

• Voters by 78-21 percent are worried about the economy’s direction in the year ahead.

• 31 percent say the economy’s getting worse, similar to the number who said so in 2012, vs. 35 percent who say it’s getting better. Thirty-three percent say it’s staying about the same, which for most, isn’t a good thing.

• 28 percent say their own financial situation has improved from two years ago; 25 percent say it’s worse, while nearly half say it’s about the same. Again, that’s better than 2012, 2010 and 2008, but still far from good.


• More say they’re voting to show opposition to Obama than support for him -- 34 vs. 20 percent -- a similar negative split as in the 2010 midterms, when the Democrats were pummeled, and for or against George W. Bush in the 2006 midterms.

• More have an unfavorable than favorable view of the Democratic Party, 53-44 percent, same as in 2010.

• More also have an unfavorable than favorable view of the Republican Party, 56-40 percent, also close to its level in 2010.

• 59 percent are dissatisfied or even angry with the Obama administration (inc. 27 percent angry).

• As many, 61 percent, are dissatisfied or even angry with the Republican leaders in Congress (inc. 23 percent angry).

• 53 percent say the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.



• Whites: a more Republican voting group -– account for 75 percent of voters in preliminary exit poll results, up from 72 percent, a record low, in 2012.

• Nonwhites: a more Democratic voting group -– account for 25 percent of voters, down from 28 percent, a record high, in 2012.


• Millennials (Voters age 18-29): a more Democratic voting group, make up just 12 percent of voters -- down from 19 percent in 2012. That's the same as it was in 2010. Note, however, that younger voters may turn out later, so their share may rise in later data.

• Older voters (Age 65+): make up 26 percent of voters, up sharply from 17 percent in 2012. Note, however, that older voters often turn out early, so their share may decline in later data.

Party ID:

• Republicans -- 34 percent

• Democrats -- 37 percent

Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by 6 or 7 points in the last two presidential elections. Republicans closed that gap in the two previous midterms


• Conservatives account for 36 percent of voters, similar to 2012. Their peak turnout was 42 percent, in 2010.


Terrorism: 72 percent of voters express worry about a major terrorist attack in this country, slightly greater than it was in 2008 and slightly lower than its level in 2004, only a few years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We’ll check to see if that impacts vote choices. Separately, 58 percent approve of the U.S. military action against ISIS.

Ebola: Voters by 50-44 percent approve of the federal government’s handling of the Ebola virus in the United States. Sixty percent are following news about Ebola closely.

Obamacare: 47 percent say the federal health care law “went too far” – a minority, but we’ll see whether it impacts vote choices. (The rest either say it didn’t go far enough, 26 percent, or was about right, 22 percent.)

Gay Marriage: Voters split on gay marriage, 49-48 percent. It’s a result that shows how those who turn out in midterm elections can differ from the general population. Among Americans overall, a majority has consistently favored gay marriage for several years.

Marijuana: Voters nationally split closely on legalizing marijuana for personal use, 49-46 percent legal-illegal, similar to ABC/Post polls among the general population.

Abortion: Voters support legal abortion, 54-42 percent, a similar majority as in the general population.


Note: the 2016 electorate is likely to be substantially different from this year.

• Midterm voters divide 35-39 percent between Hillary Clinton and an unnamed Republican candidate; 23 percent say it depends.

(Note: In a similar exit poll question in 1994, Bill Clinton trailed the generic Republican candidate by 8 points. Two years later he won by nearly 8 points in an electoral landslide).

• When asked if potential 2016 candidates would make a good president, 44 percent of voters said yes to Hillary Clinton; 28 percent said Jeb Bush; 25 percent to Rand Paul; 24 percent to Chris Christie; and 24 percent to Rick Perry.