EXIT POLLS, 1994 vs. 2006 … I?ve just sat through a marathon of post-election press conferences, each explaining how the major structural shift of this election was the behavior of …. Unmarried persons! Midwesterners! Voters with “some college” education!

I?m with Kevin; it mostly sounds like much ado about very little. If you scrutinize this year’s exit poll data, the most striking pattern is the absence of outliers.

On Tuesday, Democrats gained support among men and women; married and unmarried individuals; whites, Asians, and Hispanics; high-school dropouts, high-school diploma holders, and college graduates; rural and suburban voters; Easterners, Westerners, Midwesterners, and (yes) Southerners; liberals, moderates, and conservatives. I don?t see evidence of a singular structural shift. The country as a whole was ready for a change.

It’s interesting to compare this year?s results to 1994, an election that has rightly been called the ?revolt of the angry white man? ? more precisely, the revolt of the married conservative angry white man. Exit polls from 1994 show much clearer patterns. That year, the GOP win depended much more on increasing votes among men than women, among conservatives than any other ideological stripe, and among whites and Hispanics than blacks and Asians.

Of note: In both 1994 and 2006, independents and Hispanics swung support from one party to the other by hefty margins. The movement of independents was actually greater in 1994, while that of Hispanics was greater in 2006. In any event, the fact of this crossover alone isn?t enough to infer a permanent shift.

1994 House elections exit poll results: (% point change over 1992 House elections)

  • men +10 points
  • women + 2 points
  • white +8 points
  • black -2 points
  • Asian ? 5 points
  • Hispanic + 11 points
  • Conservatives + 9 points
  • Liberals ? no change
  • Moderates ? no change
  • Independents + 11 points

    2006 House elections exit poll results: (% point change over 2004 House elections)

  • men + 6 points
  • women + 4 points
  • white + 5 points
  • black ? no change
  • Asian + 6 points
  • Hispanic + 14 points
  • Conservatives + 3 points
  • Liberals + 4 points
  • Moderates +5 points
  • Independents + 8 points
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    Christina Larson is a Washington Monthly contributing editor and an award-winning science and environment journalist who has reported from five continents.