Americans named inflation and abortion as the most important issues driving their vote on Tuesday, according to the NBC News Exit Poll.
Democrats care most about abortion rights, while Republicans are most concerned about inflation, according to the poll. Independent voters also named inflation and abortion as the most important issues determining how they cast their ballots.
Midterm voters mostly disapprove of President Joe Biden’s performance and a plurality said they think his policies are hurting the country, the poll found.
The poll was conducted with voters as they left polling places across the United States on Election Day. (Here’s an explanation of the poll’s methodology.)
Inflation and abortion are top of mind for midterm voters
When asked which issue mattered most this year, nearly a third of voters nationwide (32%) said inflation was their top issue and just over a quarter (27%) said abortion.
Trailing those concerns are crime and gun policy, each selected by 12% of voters, and immigration, at 10%.
GOP candidates across the U.S. made concerns about crime, inflation and immigration focal points of their advertisements and speeches on the stump.
Republican voters on Tuesday shared those concerns, the exit poll shows: 44% of GOP voters named inflation as the most important issue, followed by immigration, at 15%. Crime was GOP voters’ fourth most important issue, however, at 12%, after abortion, at 14%.
By contrast, Democrats are overwhelmingly concerned about abortion: 46% named it as the most important issue, followed by inflation, at 15%, and gun policy, at 14%.
The economy loomed large over the minds of voters. More voters reported a downturn in their family finances this year than in any midterm since the end of the Great Recession, the poll found.
Forty-six percent of voters said their family’s financial situation is worse than it was two years ago, according to the poll; smaller shares said their family financials are about the same (35%) of better (18%) than they were two years ago.
Most midterm voters feel negatively about Supreme Court decision overturning Roe
The poll found that a majority of voters nationwide are disappointed or angry about the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed the right to abortion in the U.S.
More voters nationally said they trusted the Democratic Party to handle abortion policy than the GOP, according to the poll.
The poll found that 39% of voters are angry about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June, and another 21% of voters felt dissatisfied with the ruling.
That’s compared to 21% of voters nationwide who said they are satisfied with the Dobbs decision and another 16% who said they felt enthusiastic about it.
The future of abortion access is on the ballot in several states. In the exit poll, more voters nationwide said abortion should be legal rather than illegal: 60% said it should be legal in all or most cases; 36% said it should be illegal in all cases.
More voters say Biden’s policies are hurting than helping
Biden fell short in persuading voters of the merits of his administration’s policies, according to the poll.
Most voters say that Biden’s policies are either hurting the country (46%) or not making a difference (16%); just over a third of voters (35%) said that the president’s policies are mostly helping the country.
The poll found that even some of Biden’s core electoral constituencies were unconvinced that his policies are working out. Only about a third of Latinos (34%), voters under the age of 30 (34%) and independents (35%) said his policies are mostly helping.
Black voters are one of the few demographic groups where a majority (55%) say Biden’s policies are helping the country.
Biden’s job approval nearly matches Trump, but base enthusiasm is low
Biden’s performance in the White House so far get good marks from 45% of midterm voters, according to the poll — a figure nearly identical to the 45% of voters who approved of then-President Donald Trump’s performance in 2018.
However, one key difference is that Biden lacks the strong enthusiasm from his base that Trump enjoyed. Even during a devastating midterm in 2018, 31% of voters expressed strong approval of Trump in 2018.
This year, just 19% of voters expressed strong approval of Biden’s job performance.
Regardless of party, most Americans agree U.S. democracy is under threat
Seventy percent of midterm voters think U.S. democracy is “threatened,” while 27% say it is “secure.” Majorities of Democratic voters (72%), Republicans (68%) and independents (70%) all think democracy is under threat.
Midterm voters are split sharply over whether Biden’s victory in 2020 was legitimate, with 96% of Democrats agreeing compared to just 29% of Republican voters. More of a quarter of Republicans (29%) saying they think elections in their states are not “fair and accurate.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.