With 33 Senate seats up for election, control of the Senate was at stake Tuesday. At a time when the president and his policies, especially his policies in Iraq, are being criticized, many incumbents faced strong challengers. Below are exit poll results exploring the senate races in key states.
VIRGINIA — TBD
With its 7 p.m. poll closing time and a strong challenge to incumbent Republican George Allen, Virginia was seen as a harbinger of the night to come. Bush carried the state in 2004, and Allen was elected in 2000 with 52 percent of the vote, but even after the votes have been cast and counted this race remains too close to call.
Allen out-polled Democratic candidate Jim Webb among conservatives (87 percent) and white born-again Christians, (79 percent). However, Webb bested Allen among Independents, getting 53 percent of their votes, and moderates, securing 59 percent of their ballots.
Both candidates had problems with various groups of voters during the campaign. Many thought Allen offended racial minorities, though 56 percent of Virginia voters think Allen respects racial minorities. Black voters, traditionally Democratic supporters, remained so, giving Webb 85 percent of their votes. White voters, who had favored Allen in 2000, 60 percent to 40 percent, stuck with him this year — 58 percent to 41 percent for Webb.
Webb had his campaign missteps, too. He may have offended women with comments he had made in the past about their ability to serve in the military. The exit poll showed 60 percent think Webb respects women, while 29 percent think he does not. This showed in the votes of women, who split 53 percent for Webb, 46 percent for Allen.
Webb, a former Navy secretary and military veteran, was not backed by his peers. Veterans, a large group in Virginia (20 percent) voted 58 percent to 41 percent in favor of Allen.
VA—2,011 voters; +/-2 percentage points
MISSOURI—MCCASKILL WINS, TURNOVER
Talent won this seat in 2002 in a special election by just 21,000 votes and faced a strong challenge from State Auditor Claire McCaskill this year.
Stem cell research, which was the focus of a ballot initiative in Missouri, played an important role in this race. Many expected Talent to reap the benefits of a surge of conservatives and Born-Again Christians at the polls. The exit poll showed that 37 percent said they are conservative, and they strongly favored Talent, 84 percent to 15 percent. However, this breakdown of the electorate was no larger than in 2004, when 36 percent of the voters said they were conservative.
White Born-Again Christians were 31 percent of the voters this year, down from 35 percent in 2004. But once again this group backed Talent, 73 percent to 25 percent.
A majority of the voters (53 percent) said they disapprove of the job Bush has been doing as president. Not surprisingly, these voters supported the challenger McCaskill by a 84 percent to 14 percent margin. A majority (52 percent) also disapprove of the war in Iraq. These voters also favored McCaskill, 83 percent to 15 percent.
MO—2,388 voters; +/-1 percentage point
TENNESSEE — CORKER WINS, GOP retained
Incumbent Republican Bob Corker held on to his Senate seat, defeating Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. White voters split their votes for Corker 59 percent to 40 percent. White men were especially strong for Corker, giving him 61 percent of their votes.
Black voters went all-out for Ford, an African-American, 95 percent to 4 percent.
White Born-Again Christians comprised 52 percent of the electorate in Tennessee. Two-thirds of supported Corker, while 33 percent backed Ford, who had stressed moral values and character in his campaign.
Independents, making up 28 percent of the voters, split their votes 50 percent for Ford, 49 percent for Corker.
Corker did well among the 42 percent who said the issue of terrorism was extremely important to their vote for Senate, getting 57 percent of their votes. Corker also bested Ford among those who said immigration was extremely important to them — 40 percent of the voters in Tennessee. Sixty percent of these voters supported Corker.
Ford did well among the 42 percent of voters who said the economy was extremely important to their Senate vote, giving him 55 percent of their votes. Ford also did better among those who said the war in Iraq was extremely important to their vote — 36 percent of the electorate. These “war voters” broke 58 percent for Ford, 41 percent for Corker.
TN—2,512 voters; +/-1 percentage point
PENNSYLVANIA — CASEY WINS, TURNOVER
Incumbent Republican Rick Santorum was seeking his third term in the Senate against state treasurer Democrat Bob Casey. Santorum, an outspoken supporter of conservative causes, was damaged by his close ties to President Bush.
In Pennsylvania, 61 percent of voters disapproved of the way Bush is handling his job. In addition, 44 percent said one reason for their vote for Senate was to express opposition to the president; only 15 percent voted to show support for Bush.
Iraq played a large role in this race — 40 percent said the war in Iraq was extremely important in their vote for Senate. These “Iraq war voters” broke strongly for Casey, 73 percent to 27 percent for Santorum. Santorum, who supported the president’s actions in the war, was injured because 60 percent of the voters disapprove of the war in Iraq. These people voted overwhelmingly for Casey, 86 percent to 14 percent.
Party loyalties were evident in Pennsylvania, with 86 percent of those calling themselves Republican going for Santorum and 94 percent of Democrats voting for Casey. However, Independents (19 percent of the electorate) broke 73 percent to 27 percent for Casey.
Conservative voters (28 percent of the electorate) went strongly for Santorum, 79 percent to 21 percent, but the larger group of moderates (46 percent) split 66 percent to 34 percent for Casey. One-quarter of the voters in Pennsylvania labeled themselves “liberal,” and those who did stood behind Casey 93 percent to 7 percent.
PA—2,421 voters; +/-1 percentage point
Edison/Mitofsky conducted this exit poll for FOX News among voters as they left randomly selected polling places. Sample size and sampling error for each state is listed below. Error is higher among smaller subgroups.
How to Read These Horizontal Exit Poll Tables
The percentages in the first column, labeled "Total," show the proportion of the electorate that is in each subgroup — these columns are read down vertically.
The percentages in all remaining columns are read across horizontally (those to the right of the "Total" column). These percentages show how the particular subgroup of voters divided their vote among the candidates or vote question.
State Exit Poll Results (Note: Polls are in PDF format):
• Arizona (Governor) (Senate)
• California (Governor) (Senate)
• Connecticut (Senate) (Governor)
• Florida (Governor) (Senate)
• Georgia (Governor)
• Hawaii (Governor) (Senate)
• Illinois (Governor)
• Maine (Governor) (Senate)
• Maryland (Governor) (Senate)
• Massachusetts (Governor) (Senate)
• Michigan (Governor) (Senate)
• Minnesota (Governor) (Senate)
• Missouri (Senate)
• Montana (Senate)
• Nebraska (Governor) (Senate)
• Nevada (Governor) (Senate)
• New Jersey (Senate)
• New Mexico (Governor) (Senate)
• New York (Governor) (Senate)
• North Dakota (Senate)
• Ohio (Governor) (Senate)
• Pennsylvania (Governor) (Senate)
• Rhode Island (Governor) (Senate)
• Tennessee (Governor) (Senate)
• Texas (Governor) (Senate)
• Utah (Senate)
• Vermont (Governor) (Senate)
• Virginia (Senate)
• Washington (Senate)
• West Virginia (Senate)
• Wisconsin (Governor) (Senate)
• Wyoming (Governor) (Senate)