In Kentucky's contest for U.S. Senate, Tea Party favorite Rand Paul captured the Senate seat, besting his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.
Paul's winning coalition was drawn from majorities of Republicans, conservatives, men, middle and upper income earners, and middle aged and older voters. His strong showing is at least partly driven by high turnout among Republicans, who accounted for 40 percent of all voters, and seniors, who accounted for 20 percent of the electorate. Lower than expected turnout among younger voters and Democrats may have given Paul an edge as well.
Some 43 percent of all voters said they support the tea party political movement, including 26 percent who called themselves "strong supporters." These voters gave Paul margins exceeding 80-percentage points. However, 47 percent of Kentuckians said the tea party was not a factor in their decision to support a particular Senate candidate.
President Obama may not have been on the ballot in Kentucky, but he was a factor for about six in 10 voters. Forty percent said their Senate vote was cast in opposition to Obama, double the 19 percent who said they voted to support the president. In the bluegrass state, Obama's approval rating among voters checked in at 36 approve, 63 disapprove.
Conway succeeded in capturing support from African Americans and younger voters, but fell short of clinching victory.
Democrats strongly broke for Conway, giving him 84 percent of their vote, while Republicans supported Paul, at a 91 percent clip. Independents threw their support behind Paul, 57 to 42, securing his win.
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.