Russia Investigation, Healthcare, And Gun Policies — A Brief Analysis Of Midterm Exit Polls

Trump played a small factor in people's votes, but healthcare was the number one issue on voters' minds.

A closeup image of an "I Voted" sticker.
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Trump played a small factor in people's votes, but healthcare was the number one issue on voters' minds.

The major results of the 2018 Congressional midterm elections are by now mostly known. Several races are not yet decided, but who will control which houses of Congress is certain: the Democrats are slated to win the House of Representatives, while Republicans will retain control of the Senate, according to reporting to the New York Times.

This was the expected result — prognosticators across the web, including FiveThirtyEight, had long-predicted this sort of outcome. The Senate map this year also favored Republicans in a major way, as Democrats had to defend more seats than the GOP did across the country.

With the outcomes now known, political pundits will argue for quite some time over what drove voters to the ballot box. Exit polling data obtained during the election gives us some insights into what motivated Americans to come out on Election Day.

Healthcare

People’s perceptions on which party would be better for protecting patients’ rights — including individuals with pre-existing health conditions that could be denied coverage based on their former ailments — were largely on the minds of American voters. A plurality of voters — 41 percent — in fact, cited it as their number one concern.

Most Americans thought that healthcare needed big changes. 69 percent said as much, while only 28 percent said that minor or no changes were needed. Out of those who said major changes were needed, 55 percent supported Democrats and 43 percent voted for Republicans.

Democrats were the big winners, in fact, on one particular issue in the healthcare debate. Out of all respondents in the exit polling data, accessible at CNN, 57 percent said Democrats would be better for protecting the right of people with pre-existing conditions to not be denied care, while only 35 percent of voters thought Republicans would be better to do so.

Trump

President Donald Trump was on the mind of many voters across the United States, but not everyone who came out to vote on Tuesday did so because of him. Voters split pretty evenly, it seemed, on whether his tenure so far affected their Congressional preferences in a positive or negative way, or not at all.

Nearly two-in-five voters, 38 percent, said that their vote for the House candidate they wanted to win was due in part to their opposition to Trump’s presidency. A smaller number, 26 percent, said that their vote was in favor of supporting the commander-in-chief. A third of voters said that Trump played no factor at all in who they decided to vote for.

The Russia Investigation

Trump tweeted out on Wednesday morning an interesting statistic regarding the Russia investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Voters Nationwide Disapprove of the so-called Mueller Investigation (46%) more than they Approve (41%),” Trump wrote. “You mean they are finally beginning to understand what a disgusting Witch Hunt, led by 17 Angry Democrats, is all about!”

The claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt” led by Democrats has been contested several times by fact-checking sites. Mueller himself, for example, is a Republican, reported NBC News in the past.

But another interesting part of this exit polling data suggests that there’s a deeper reasoning behind why people are disapproving of the investigation. Of the number of respondents who disapproved, only 7-out-of-10 voted for Republicans. Nearly 3-out-of-10 supported the Democrat on their ballots.

What this suggests is that there is some opposition by those on the left in this country on the Russia investigation.

Guns

Gun policy was not a major factor in most people’s voting preferences on Tuesday. Only 10 percent of respondents in exit polling said that it was their most important issue. Nevertheless, Americans also told pollsters that they’d prefer something be done to stem gun violence in the country.

Efforts to oppose changes in gun legislation were only supported by 37 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, 59 percent of voters said that they wanted to see gun laws changed to become more strict.

Undoubtedly, the statistics suggest that at least a portion of Americans who own guns themselves agree that gun laws need to be changed. The poll found that 46 percent of voters themselves owned a weapon, a higher rate than the number of people who said that they didn’t want gun laws changed.