Six Nuggets from the 2010 Exit Polls

Who voted for whom, and what did they think?

If you watched cable last night, you may have had so much exit poll data thrown your way that you’re having trouble picking through the clutter. Compiled from’s presentation of national data compiled from separate house races, here are a half-dozen notable results—some counter-intuitive, some revealing—that you might have missed.

1: Most voters don’t want to see the health care bill repealed—and a majority of those who support it would like to see it expanded.

Here are the numbers: 16 percent of voters don’t want Congress to change the bill. A further 31 percent would like to see it expanded. Both categories of health care bill supporters voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. Of course, many Democrats favored a more extensive health plan—single payer, say, or one that included a public option—during its construction and passage.

2: A great majority of voters expressed false beliefs about the effect of the stimulus package.

About one third say the stimulus bill helped the economy, one third say it had no effect, and one third say it actually harmed the economy. The latter two thirds of Americans are wrong. Studies of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act undertaken by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and several major private-sector economic research firms, estimate that its total effect will be 2.5 million jobs.

3: While a slim majority of voters said that Obama’s policies would “hurt the country”…

52 percent say they hurt, 43 percent say they help.

4: … a majority (61 percent) of voters said their vote wasn’t an expression of opposition to Obama.

Of those who said their votes were in opposition to Obama, 93 percent voted for Republican House candidates. Those who said expressing an opinion on Obama through their vote was not a factor in picking a House candidate, leaned to Democratic candidates by 53 percent versus 43 percent to Republicans.

5: Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Republican voters had an unfavorable view of the Republican party.

That was about twice the number of Democratic voters (11 percent) who said the same about the Democratic party.

6. Two fifths of all voters said they support the “Tea Party Movement.”

Republican candidates got 87 percent of the votes of those claiming to back the tea party, meaning just shy of seventy percent of all votes for Republican candidates came from self-identified tea party supporters.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.