This Just in: Voters not Happy

Exit polls reveal a shocking bit of information: voters aren't happy with either party.

Exit polling data confirms what we already knew:  people ain’t none too happy.

Via CNN’s Political Ticker:  Exit Polls: Voters give low marks to both parties

Democrats have a 10-point favorability gap: 43 percent of voters have a positive opinion of the party, while 53 percent aren’t thrilled. The Republican Party also gets a thumbs-down from 53 percent of the nation’s voters, with just 41 percent saying they’re happy with the GOP.

Of course, that having been said, they are clearly voting more for Reps than Dems today.  As such, Democrats will want to point at the above numbers as some kind of solace (see! they hate us both!) but that is same consolation in the face of actual electoral results.

ABC further reports that the exit polls show that the economy is on everyone’s mind:

Eighty-eight percent of voters today say the national economy’s in bad shape, nearly as many as the record 92 percent who said so two years ago. Only 14 percent say their own family’s financial situation has improved since 2008. And few see much respite: Compounding the political impact of the long downturn, 86 percent remain worried about the economy’s direction in the next year, including half who are “very” worried.

In both cases, these numbers simply confirm what we already knew to be the case.

Indeed, rather than this election having any kind of realignment implications, it just shows when taken with other recent contests that voters simply remain discontent in general.  They became unhappy in 2006 with the Republicans and voted Democratic majorities into power and then a Democrat into the White House in 2008.  The country remains on the wrong track (see here and here), and so another shift in at least one House is the result (at the moment it would appear that the Senate will remain in Democratic hands).

Really, the main shifts that seem to be in play (and one can project back as well as looking at today’s results) are in terms of a)  the general enthusiasm of specific sectors on the electorate in a given election, and b) in terms of where independents are willing to cast their ballots rather than in terms of coherent policy preferences in the public.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. george says:

    Definitely a case of people trying to figure out the lesser of two evils – and in a case where both are so bad it might not even matter which is marginally worse they tend to vote against whoever is in power.

  2. Janis Gore says:

    My good carpenter father told me at one time, that life isn’t about being happy.

    Happiness comes and gos.

  3. John Personna says:

    I think this strange situation, in which the party with lower approval can clean up, is the real story.

    Unfortunately we’ll have to endure those who try to spin it as approval, and people so foolish they actually believe it is.

    Hopefully this clears the ground though, for pragmatism.

  4. The unoriginal Herv says:

    My “I votred” sticker was worn upside down.

  5. rodney dill says:

    People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. — Abraham Lincoln

  6. rodney dill says:

    Unfortunately we’ll have to endure those who try to spin it as approval, and people so foolish they actually believe it is.

    It’s not approval, though I agree with you that some will spin it that way. It’s condemnation of whoever is in power and is not getting the job done for the majority. It can flip back just as easy in two years.

  7. John Personna says:

    Everbody on Morning Joe agrees with you Rodney. We can hope. The counter meme seems to be that this is a mandate to:

    1) extend a couple trillion in tax cuts
    2) cut a few billion in spending
    3) and THEN have a conversation about why that didn’t fix the deficit


  8. tom p says:

    2012 will be a hootenanny of a good time.

  9. Joe R. says:

    Obviously those people were not quite disgusted enough, because they still went into the voting booth and pulled the lever for one.