Here’s what the early exit polls are telling us

Election night is just beginning, but preliminary exit poll results are already rolling in, offering a taste of what’s on voters’ minds as they cast their ballots on Tuesday.

While those polls don’t necessarily reflect the election results, they offer some insight into what issues are top-of-mind for Americans ahead of an election that has been billed by both parties as particularly consequential.

Here are five takeaways from the exit polls so far.

Inflation, abortion are at the top of voters’ minds

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the two issues that have dominated the midterms — inflation and abortion rights — were on voters’ minds as they went to the polls on Tuesday.

Exit polling from Edison Research found that abortion was the top issue for 44 percent of voters who are backing Democrats, while roughly half of those supporting Republican candidates pointed to inflation as their biggest concern.

Similarly, a poll from ABC and The Washington Post found inflation was the top issue for voters at 32 percent. But abortion wasn’t far behind, coming in at 27 percent.

Exit polling out of Pennsylvania — a key battleground state — from CBS News found that 36 percent of voters are most concerned about abortion. Inflation came second place, at 28 percent.

Democrats have campaigned throughout the summer and fall on a message of preserving and protecting abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark reproductive rights case, in June.

Republicans, meanwhile, have sought to put blame on President Biden and Democrats for the stubbornly high level of inflation, seizing on the age-old political bet that Americans will ultimately vote with their pocketbooks.

Americans aren’t happy with Biden

Midterm elections are often seen, with few exceptions, as referendums on the current president. And Biden is no exception.

Exit polling from Edison research shows only 45 percent of voters approve of Biden’s job performance. That’s about the same as where former President Trump stood in 2018, when Democrats recaptured control of the House.

That same exit polling shows that nearly half of voters believe that Biden’s policies are mostly hurting the country, while just more than one-third — 36 percent — believe they’re helping the country.

Looking beyond 2022, voters aren’t particularly keen on Biden seeking a second term in the Oval Office. Exit polling from ABC and The Washington Post found that 30 percent of voters — including 38 percent of Democrats — don’t want to see Biden mount another campaign.

But Trump still isn’t popular

Biden may not be popular among most voters. But his predecessor also doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.

Exit polling from Edison Research found that only 37 percent of voters have a favorable view of the former president, who has hinted that he’s on the verge of announcing another campaign for the White House.

Roughly 60 percent of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, the exit polling shows.

And most voters aren’t showing up to the polls to express support for Trump. The Edison Research polling found that only about 16 percent of Americans are casting ballots to show their support for the former president.

Voters agree that democracy is in danger

Democrats have argued that the 2022 midterms are a chance for voters to protect American democracy. Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed for tighter voting laws, occasionally casting doubt on the accuracy of the nation’s election results.

Those arguments appear to be reaching voters, 70 percent of whom say that American democracy is threatened, according to exit polling from ABC and The Washington Post.

That includes 72 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans. Independents, meanwhile, hew closer to Democrats. Seventy-one percent believe that democracy is in danger, according to the polling.

The electorate is skewing older

Exit polling from Edison Research shows that only about 1 in 10 voters this year are under the age of 30, while roughly one-third are 65 or older.

Compare that to the last midterm elections in 2018, when 13 percent of voters were under 30 and about 26 percent were 65 or older.

It’s no surprise that senior citizens are voting at higher rates than young people. But those voters also tend to lean toward the GOP. That could be good news for Republicans, who are looking to reclaim their House and Senate majorities this year.

The Edison Research polling also found that about 40 percent of voters this year are white and college-educated. In 2018, those voters made up about 31 percent of the electorate.

Meanwhile, voters of color, a key Democratic voting bloc, are on track to make up a slightly smaller share of the electorate than they did four years ago.

Tags 2022 midterms Joe Biden

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