Congressional election results and the balance of power

It remains uncertain which party will control the Senate or the House of Representatives next year, with votes still being counted and key races too early. But it’s clear that the “red wave” that Republicans had hoped for has not materialized in 2022.

A national exit poll found that voters are generally dissatisfied with the state of the country, the economy and President Joe Biden — a political environment that typically leads to a midterm White House backlash against the party. But other factors, including views on abortion and Biden’s predecessor, could help keep Democrats competitive.

Here are some of the factors voters considered:

President Biden: Biden’s approval rating among voters was lower than expected, with only about 44% of voters supporting, about 55% disapproving and about 45% strongly disapproving. Voters are more likely to say Biden’s policies are hurting the country than helping, and more likely to say they voted against the president rather than for him.

economy: A minority of voters, about 31 percent, see inflation as their top concern, and about 8 in 10 say inflation is a difficulty for them personally. Voters, by about 12 percentage points, said they trust Republicans over Democrats to tackle inflation.

But the looming election suggests it’s not just a referendum on an unpopular president or a reaction to grim economic views.

Abortion rights: The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade brought abortion to center stage, with about 27% of voters calling it a top issue. About six in 10 voters were negative about the decision, with nearly four in 10 expressing anger. Democrats lead Republicans by about 11 percentage points when it comes to party voters’ trust in dealing with abortion-related issues.

Former President Donald Trump: Trump has nearly as much attention from voters as the current president. About 28 percent of voters said they intended to vote against him, just a few percentage points below the roughly one-third who said they opposed Biden.

Democrats win over Biden skeptics: The strength of individual candidates may have helped Democratic candidates win over some voters disillusioned with a Democratic president. In New Hampshire, for example, Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan won her seat by winning nearly all voters who favored Biden and about one-fifth of those who opposed Biden.

In Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, Democratic winner Josh Shapiro is expected to win about a quarter of Commonwealth voters who disapprove of Biden. In multiple races, Democratic candidates have won outright among voters who are somewhat disapproving of Biden.

What are exit polls?

The CNN Exit Poll combines in-person and face-to-face interviews with voters on Election Day, telephone and online polls to measure the views of early and absentee mail-in voters. They are conducted by Edison Research on behalf of the national electoral pool. Read more here.

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