OK, it’s time to look for silver linings for Democrats here in Georgia and nationally, an activity that giddy conservatives would probably describe as consolation for losers.
Fair enough, but here goes anyway:
During the campaign, I noted often that Democrats seemed to be polling very well among younger voters in Georgia, while Republicans were highly dependent on those 65 and older. Did that show up at the voting booth? According to the Georgia exit polls, yes it did:
Nunn did very well among voters 44 and younger, but lost the senior citizen vote by almost 30 points. And since seniors turn out while younger voters do not, that can be decisive. (Nationally, Republicans won the senior citizen vote by 15 points, still substantial but half the margin that they enjoyed in that demographic here in Georgia.)
Georgia Democrats would also like to tell themselves that they would have done better without an unpopular president dragging them down. Does the exit poll give them evidence on which to base that belief? To a degree it does:
When 47 percent of the electorate walks into the voting booth already strongly opposed to the president of your party, you have a tough row to hoe. Overcoming it is almost impossible, which also explains why Perdue stressed that point so much in his campaign.
A lot of Democrats have advocated a more aggressively populist approach on issues such as the minimum wage, but party leaders have shied away from that line of attack, particularly in conservative states such as Georgia. Do exit poll data shed light on who was right?
Even with a conservative, midterm Georgia electorate, 56 percent say they would favor raising the minimum wage, while just 40 percent say they would oppose it. That’s consistent with the findings of a broader question, asked in the national exit poll in House races:
By an almost two-to-one margin, Americans believe the economic system is tilted toward the wealthy. It’s a sentiment shared by more than a third of those who voted Republican, which suggests that come 2016, both parties better find a way to address it.
And what about amnesty for immigrants who are here illegally? Last night’s results have encouraged Republicans to continue to take an absolutist, no-way, not-ever position on that issue, but the American people seem to have different ideas:
And if a vacancy opens on the Supreme Court, putting the question of abortion on the front-burner again?
On those and similar questions, however, you also have to factor intensity into the equation. Even if a significant majority of Americans in a more conservative, off-year electorate support both amnesty and abortion rights, those taking the minority position on those issues do so more fervently. And one of the reminders from last night’s results is that fervency can matter. It gets people to the voting booth, while apathy does not.
Finally, here’s a finding that at first blush gives conservatives some encouragement going into 2016, as if they needed it these days:
At this point, only 42 percent of those who voted in the 2014 midterms believe that Clinton would make a good president. The problem is, the numbers for potential GOP candidates such as Jeb Bush (29%), Chris Christie (24)%, Rand Paul (26%) and Rick Perry (24%) are even lower.
We’re not happy with anybody these days, not with each other and not with those who would attempt to lead us.