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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 06:10 PM ET, 11/02/2010

Early exit polls: top issues this election

As expected, the economy is on the top of voters' minds today, as more than six in 10 say it is the most important issue facing the country, according to preliminary exit poll data. About two in 10 cite health care as the most pressing issue. So-called "economy" voters tilt toward the GOP, while "health care" voters lean toward Democratic congressional candidates in their district.

The economy topped also voters' minds in November 2008, when 63 percent cited it as the most important issue. But then, these voters backed Democratic congressional candidates 55 to 43 percent in 2008.

Afghanistan:

Foreign policy issues are not playing a large role this cycle, with the economy on the tops of voters' minds. However, about one in 10 say the war in Afghanistan is the most pressing this election, according to early exit poll data.

And public opinion on the subject appears to have turned more negative recently. Overall, more than half say they disapprove of the war in Afghanistan, while fewer, four in 10, approve.

In the latest Post-ABC poll on the issue, in July 2010, 43 percent said, all in all, the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, while 53 percent said it was not worth fighting.

On another foreign policy note, about half say the Friday terrorism attempt was important to their vote choice. These voters lean toward the GOP.

It's the economy that's foremost on voters minds, as they are overwhelmingly worried with the state of the nation's economy. More than eight in 10 are either "very worried" or "somewhat worried," about the same as in 2008, when 86 percent said so. In a clear shift, today worried voters appear to favor the GOP; two years ago, these voters backed Democratic candidates by a 55 to 43 split.

In Nevada, Wisconsin and Ohio, about nine in 10 are worried about the economy.

Nearly all voters call the state of the economy "not so good" or "poor," similar to 2008, when 93 percent described the economy that way. About four in 10 say the economy is "poor."

In the past two years, voters say their family's financial situation moving backwards: four in 10 say their personal financial situation is worse today than two years ago, far fewer say it is better, and about four in 10 say it is about the same. In 2008, 24 percent said their family's financial situation was better than it was four years prior, 42 said it was worse, and 34 percent said it was about the same.

In Ohio, four times as many say their financial situation is moving in the wrong direction than getting better.

Nationally, fewer than four in 10 say the country is headed on the wrong track, while about six in 10 see the nation heading in the right direction. In the states of Nevada and Kentucky, more than twice as many see things in the nation as headed on the wrong track than headed in the right direction.

And confidence in the stimulus spending is quite low:just three in 10 say it has helped the economy. About the same number, three in 10, it has hurt the economy, while the remainder say say it has made no difference.

In Florida and Ohio, two states hit hard by the recession, more than seven in 10 say in the past few years the country's economy has been in a serious long-term decline, while about one in four say it is part of a normal downturn.

Health care:

Seven months after the Obama administration and Congress passed overarching health care reforms, two in 10 voters call the issue tops on their minds and about half say they want to overturn the overhaul, according to preliminary exit polls.

Overall, about half want the next Congress to repeal the health care, while fewer than two in 10 say Congress should leave it is as and three in 10 say it should be expanded.

An early October Washington Post-ABC News poll showed an electorate about evenly split on the health-care overhaul: 46 percent of voters for it, 50 percent against. Moreover, more than three-quarters of those who oppose the changes say they support an effort to cancel the health-care reform measures. In the poll, 40 percent of Americans oppose the bill and support an effort to repeal it, either by a new vote in Congress or through the courts.

In Kentucky and Ohio, half say the new health care law will make them worse off, while about half as many say it will make them and their family better off and three in 10 percent say it won't make a difference.

Source: Exit poll conducted by Edison Media Research for the National Election Pool, The Washington Post and other media organizations. The National Election Pool (NEP) is a consortium of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News and the Associated Press.

By Kyle Dropp  |  06:10 PM ET, 11/02/2010

Categories:  Exit polls | Tags:  afghanistan, economy, health care, tax cuts

 
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