What are voters feeling? ABC News releases preliminary exit polling

King County Ballots

As Americans head to the polls Tuesday, ABC News has been tracking voter sentiment through their extensive Exit Polling.

Among some of their preliminary key findings (all data courtesy ABC News:)

* 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.)

* 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.

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 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.

* 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.

* 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.

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