Read Slate’s complete coverage of the 2010 midterm elections.
This article will be updated throughout Tuesday night.
11:40 p.m. One of the big assumptions the Democratic Party made this year was that President Obama could turn out the young voters who had voted for him in 2008—and there was no state in which Democrats tried harder to turn out this vote than Ohio. Nationwide, young voters did not turn out this time around. Only 11 percent of those under 30 turned out, below the 18 percent of the 2008 election and the 13 percent who turned out in 2006. In Ohio, the young vote was even more dismal. There, only 8 percent of young voters are voting. In 2006, exit polls showed that 13 percent of young voters turned out in Ohio.
11:14:Republicans have picked up seven gubernatorial seats. While it’s nice that Democrats held the governor’s office in New York and Massachusetts, Republicans have picked up the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Only in the swing state of Colorado have Democrats won a governor’s seat. This is important because, while governors don’t ensure a presidential candidate will win that state, it does give them a leg up. A ready-made organization allows a candidate to spend resources elsewhere.
Those victories will matter after 2012 as well, particularly because Republicans are doing very well at the state level. In 11 states, control of the statehouse has flipped from Democrat to Republican. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Texas, the GOP now controls the branches that deal with redistricting. In Ohio, the House has turned Republican, which puts even more pressure on Democrats to win the governor’s race. The same is true for Florida. If Democrat Alex Sink doesn’t win, that will make another state in which the GOP will control the entire redistricting process.
8:59: So far the best news of the night for Democrats comes from the candidate who tried to run away from President Obama. In West Virginia’s Senate race, Gov. Joe Manchin is the projected winner. According to exit polls, 62 percent of coal industry households voted for Manchin. The southern-border counties of Logan, Mingo, and Raleigh, where Manchin had to do well, are coal country. John Raese, the Republican, was going to try to take votes away from Manchin there.
Raese wanted this to be a campaign about change. Manchin tried to paint him as an outsider. Manchin won that battle. More people based their vote on the terms of the debate as he defined it. Exit polls show that 40 percent of the voters said what mattered most was that the candidate understands the needs of people like me. Manchin won that group 60 percent to 37 percent. Raese did even better among those who wanted change—but only 31 percent of voters picked that as their main criteria.
Some other early thoughts from the exit polls:
*Democrats are getting killed with white voters. In 2006, Democrats lost the white vote by 4 percentage points. In exit polls tonight, Democrats are losing white voters by 60 percent to 38 percent.
*The president was on people’s minds. In 1994, 51 percent of the population said that President Bill Clinton wasn’t a factor. This year, only 36 percent said Obama was not a factor. Of those, 24 percent said it was support for Obama that was a factor, while 37 percent said it was opposition to Obama.
*Who is to blame for the economy? Wall Street Bankers (34 percent), George Bush (29 percent), and Barack Obama (24 percent).
*In Virginia, we were looking to see if the Republican wave would take vulnerable Rep. Tom Perriello of the 5th District and stop there, or would it also get Rep. Gerald Connolly in the 11th District. Perriello has gone down, as has Rep. Rick Boucher in the 9th District, and as of 8:30 p.m., Connolly is fighting for his life. That’s a preliminary indication that this wave could grow.
*Late in the Kentucky Senate campaign, Democrat Jack Conway threw a Hail Mary pass: He ran an ad trying to raise questions about Rand Paul in order to scare religious voters. It didn’t appear to work. Half of the voters in the state identified themselves as evangelicals, and they overwhelmingly went for Paul, 70 percent to 30 percent.
*In Indiana’s 9th District, Republican challenger Todd Young has defeated Democratic incumbent Baron Hill. It was a race Republicans should have won, but it neverthless represents a GOP gain. In the state’s 2nd District, however, the firewall held: Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, won another term.
*In Pennsylvania, the House went to the Republicans, as did the governorship. That will be a boon to the party when it comes time for redistricing next year. It has total control over the state, and therefore the redistricting process—and Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state.
Video: Rand Paul is elected senator from Kentucky
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