Preliminary results from a national Associated Press exit poll of voters in Tuesday's elections:
THE ECONOMY DOMINATES
Six in 10 voters picked the economy as the most important issue facing the nation. None of four other issues on the list - energy, Iraq, terrorism and health care - was picked by more than one in 10. Not surprisingly, voters also have a very sour view of the condition of the nation's economy. About half said it's poor and nearly all the rest said it's not good. At least four in 10 said their family's financial situation has gotten worse in the past four years. A third said it's about the same and about a quarter said it's gotten better. Looking ahead, half of voters said they're very worried the current economic crisis will harm their family's finances over the next year and another third were somewhat worried about that. But nearly half said they think the nation's economy will get better over the next year.
Two-thirds of voters said they're worried about being able to afford the health care they need. And at least as many said they worried there will be another terrorist attack in the United States.
One in 10 voters said they were voting this year for the first time, and that group was disproportionately young and nonwhite. Six in 10 of those voters were under age 30. One in five new voters were black and about as many were Hispanic. A quarter of new voters said they don't have landline phones at home, only cell phones.
BUSH AND CONGRESS
As they have in pre-election polls, President Bush and Congress get low marks from voters. Only about one in five approve of how Bush is handling his job, and Congress fared no better.
CANDIDATES' QUALITIES More than a third of voters said they most wanted a candidate who would bring change to Washington, while nearly as many said they wanted one who shares their values. About one in five were looking mostly for experience, while a smaller portion were seeking a candidate who cares about people like them.
Six in 10 voters said future appointments to the Supreme Court were an important factor in their vote. Two-thirds favor drilling for oil offshore in U.S. waters where it is not allowed now. More than half oppose the $700 billion government plan to help failing financial companies.
As usual, women were a little more numerous than men in the electorate. About one in seven voters were under age 30 and as many were over 65. A third reported household income of less than $50,000; a quarter had income of more than $100,000. One in five had no more than a high school diploma; nearly half had a college degree. One in four voters were white born-again evangelical Christians. Nearly half of voters have a gun in their household.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)