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Exit polls

A national exit poll of voters in U.S. House races shows a broadly disgruntled electorate, down on the economy, skeptical of the country's direction and divided on the new health-care law. Here are some highlights from the preliminary data.

The electorate

Independent voters sided with Democratic House candidates by a wide margin in 2006, the last midterm elections, propelling their takeover of Congress. This year, preliminary data showed independents breaking toward Republicans.

Exit Poll data

The electorate this year was made up of fewer younger voters and a more even split among Democrats and Republicans than the one that elected President Obama in 2008.

Who the voters were

Political climate

Q: Do you think things in this country are:

Seriously off on the wrong track 61%
Generally going in the right direction 34

Q: Which of these best describes your feelings about the way the federal government is working?

Dissatisfied/angry 73%
Enthusiastic/satisfied 25

Percent saying it's the most important facing the country

Economy 63%
Health care 18
Illegal immigration 8
War in Afghanistan 7

Q: How worried are you about the direction of the nation's economy in the next year?

Very worried 49%
Somewhat worried 37
Not too worried 10
Not at all worried 3

Q: What should Congress do with the new health-care law?

Repeal it 48%
Expand it 31
Leave it as it is 16
Tea party

In the first election since the tea party political movement started rolling, voters split on what message they tried to send to candidates.

Was one reason for your vote to send a message:

Tea party was not a factor 57%
In favor of the tea party 22
Against the tea party 17
The Obama factor

Voters were also divided on President's Obama's job performance, and his role in their thinking about how to vote for Congress.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?

Disapprove 55%
Approve 44

Was one reason for your vote:

Obama was not a factor 38%
To express OPPOSITION to Obama 37
To express SUPPORT for Obama 23
SOURCE: These preliminary exit poll results are from a survey of 18,132 voters voters nationwide conducted by Edison Media Research on behalf of the National Election Pool, The Washington Post and other media organizations. The NEP is a consortium of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News and the Associated Press. The results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 1 percentage points and higher for subgroups.
GRAPHIC: Wilson Andrews, Jon Cohen, Alicia Parlapiano / The Washington Post - November 2, 2010.

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