2010 voters: Not especially white or old, but very sour on big government

During the run-up to the 2010 midterm election, it was accepted as common wisdom that this would be a much whiter, older electorate, full of angry, anti-government Republicans. As often happens, most of the common wisdom proved to be false.

  • For one thing, the 2010 electorate was not as white as the 2006 electorate that put the Congressional GOP majorities out on their ears. Exit polling from 2006 showed a 79% white electorate. In 2010, it was 77% white.
  • In 2006, 63% of the voters were over 45. In 2010, 64% were over 45. The percentage of voters older than 65 went up slightly from 19% to 21%.
  • In 2006, 36% of voters identified as Republicans. In 2010, the number was 35%. (The Democratic share did slip from 38% to 36%.)

.

So if this was not a whiter, older or more Republican electorate, what is the difference between 2006 and 2008? Here are two places you can start, stolen straight from the 2010 exit poll results.

1) First, independent voters backed Democrats by 18 points in 2006. They backed Republicans by 19 points in 2010. That’s a pretty shocking swing of 37 points.

2) And second:

Opinion of Government
  Democrat Republican Other
Government Should Do More (38%)
77%
21%
2%
Government Doing Too Much (56%)
20%
76%
4%
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