Nov. 8 - In a historic midterm election night, high turnout among American voters has significantly changed the balance of power in Washington DC, with the Democratic Party retaking the majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Anti-incumbent sentiment and dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq led to sweep in which Democrats wrested control of at least 28 seats, with 14 still undecided.
With two key Senate races, in VA and MT too close to call as of this writing, and likely headed to recount challenges, Democrats also stand chance to take back majority control of the Senate.
The election saw historic landmarks set in a number of aspects. These include: Positioning Nancy Pelosi to become the first woman Speaker of the House; electing Deval Patrick as the first African American governor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and sending Democrat Keith Ellison, an African American, to represent Minnesota’s 5th as the first Muslim in the House of Representatives.
Preliminary exit polling indicates that unusually high turnout was reported nationwide, affected by a number of controversial ballot initiatives as well as support for specific candidates. Minority voters, swing voters and non-traditional coalition-building also played an important role in the shift. In the most recent exit poll figures by CNN, non-white voters veered strongly to the left, with 76% of non-white men and 78% of non-white women going Democrat.
The same data indicate that while white voters overall leaned Republican, it was by a smaller margin (51% GOP to 47%) than expected, due largely to a 49/49 split among white women voters. African American voters leaned even more heavily Democrat than expected, at 89%, despite the GOP’s fielding a number of prominent Black candidates in high-level races in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Latino and Asian voters, who have traditionally been more inclined to lean Republican, emerged as clear and growing swing voters, breaking to the Democrats at 69% and 62% respectively. Other non-white voters including Native Americans tracked in CNN’s polling split 56% Democrat to 41% Republican.