Why The Elephants Are Dancing: Understanding the November 2014 Election

Public Opinion Strategies’ Election Night Poll shows the 2014 election was defined by major dissatisfaction about the direction of the country, the economy, and President Obama:

  1. On Election Day, roughly two-thirds (65{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of voters said the country is headed off on the wrong track.
  1. The weekend before the election 64{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters said they were dissatisfied with the state of the U.S. economy.
  1. In the national exit polls, President Obama’s job approval was 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} on Election Day, exactly matching his job approval on Election Day in 2010.
  1. By a roughly two-to-one margin, people say they voted as a signal to oppose rather than to support President Obama (17{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} support/32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} oppose).
  1. Republicans enjoyed a six point edge on the generic vote for Congress (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying they voted for the Republican candidate for Congress compared to 46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying they voted for the Democratic candidate for Congress).
  1. In the national exit polls, Republicans carried White men by an even wider margin in 2014 than in 2010 (64{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying they voted for the Republican candidate/33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying they voted for the Democratic candidate this cycle compared to 62{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}/34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2010).
  1. While not quite as high as in 2010, Republicans captured White women by a comfortable double-digit margin this cycle (56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying they voted for the Republican candidate/43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying they voted for the Democratic candidate in 2014 compared to 58{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}/39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2010 according to national exit polls).
  1. Republican positive fortunes were spurred as well by high dissatisfaction among Independents and double-digit support on the generic Congressional vote.   Among Independents on our Election Day survey:
    • 65{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say the country is headed off on the wrong track.
    • A majority disapprove of the president’s job (37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/59{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove).
    • A double-digit majority voted Republican for Congress (53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican candidate/37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democratic candidate).
  1. Confirming recent off-year trends, the majority of voters (60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say they made up their mind on which Congressional candidate to vote for in September or earlier. Republicans carried these early deciders by a wide margin (57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican candidate/41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democratic candidate) , while losing the 24{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters who made up their mind in October (44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican candidate/53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democratic candidate) and the 15{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} who made up their mind on the few days before the election or Election Day (42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican candidate/51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democratic candidate).
  1. Early voting continues to increase with the highest number of people in a mid-term (34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) saying they voted before the election. Republicans broke even with early voters (50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican candidate/50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democratic candidate) and carried Election Day voters by eight points (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican candidate/44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democratic candidate).

Please click here to see a slide deck of key Election Night findings.

Public Opinion Strategies conducted a national telephone survey on November 4, 2014 among N=800 actual voters, including 240 cell phone interviews. The survey has a margin of error of +3.46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 95 out of 100 cases.



Public Opinion Strategies