Voters are casting ballots for the very candidates they blame for a lousy economy and declining national prestige.
Exit polls make clear that a stagnant economy remains voters’ biggest concern, yet voters are sending the same policymakers they blame for the nation’s problems back to Washington. Associated Press exit polls show that more than one third of people who voted Republican say they are angry or disappointed with Republican leadership in Congress. One-fourth of Democratic voters are fed up with President Obama and his fellow Democrats. This means a decisive portion of the electorate is basically voting for the same lousy performance they’ve been getting from Washington.
There are two obvious explanations. First, voters think that as bad as their favored candidate might be, the opposing candidate has to be worse. Fault a rigid two-party system that hogs all the money and leaves virtually no room for viable third- (or fourth-) party candidates. Second, voters aren’t doing what they say they want to do—bring about change. They’re hoping change comes from someplace other than the voting booth and fixes problems that are beyond institutional repair. Those two phenomena combined leave many voters little choice but to perpetuate a political system they disdain.