A nationwide survey of voters as they left polling places showed that the economy was the top issue in the election, way ahead of health care, the federal budget deficit or foreign policy.
Fifty-nine percent of voters said the economy was the biggest issue facing the country, about the same percentage as 2008, according to preliminary results of a national exit poll. Next were health care (18 percent) and the deficit (15 percent). Just 5 percent said foreign policy was the top issue. Seventy-seven percent of voters called the economy not so good or poor.
The survey of 23,467 voters was conducted for the AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 350 precincts nationally Tuesday, as well as 4,389 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellphone.
In a race that’s been neck-and-neck for months, about 1 in 10 voters said they’d only settled on their presidential choice within the last few days or even on Election Day. They were closely divided between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Ryan not VP, but wins House seat again
Paul Ryan came up short in his vice presidential bid, but his backup plan worked.
The Wisconsin congressman easily won re-election Tuesday night to the U.S. House seat he has held since 1998. State law allowed Ryan to run for Congress and vice president at the same time.
He also won his previous congressional elections by comfortable margins.
He was challenged this year for southeast Wisconsin’s 1st District by Democratic businessman Rob Zerban, whose grass-roots campaign focused on his credentials as an entrepreneur, and Libertarian Keith Deschler. But it was an uphill climb for both challengers.
Obama back on court on Election Day
President Barack Obama indulged his superstitions Tuesday by engaging in a traditional Election Day basketball game with friends in Chicago.
A savvy basketball fan, Obama was joined by former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, childhood friends Mike Ramos and Marty Nesbitt, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former captain of Harvard’s basketball team. Others who played included Obama’s chef Sam Kass, first lady Michelle Obama’s brother Craig Robinson, former Bulls player Jeff Sanders, and Alexi Giannoulias, the former Illinois state treasurer and 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee.
Giannoulias said Obama was player-coach of his team, which included Giannoulias and Pippen. The game had referees and the teams played 12-minute quarters. Giannoulias said the president’s team won by about 20 points.
In 2008, Obama played basketball with aides before winning the kickoff Iowa caucuses. They decided to make the games an Election Day tradition after he lost the next contest, the New Hampshire primary, on a day when they didn’t hit the court.
“We made the mistake of not playing basketball once. I can assure you we will not repeat that,” said Robert Gibbs, a longtime Obama aide who accompanied the president in the campaign’s waning days.
Capitol will have a Kennedy again
Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy III, who won a House seat in Massachusetts on Tuesday, is the new Kennedy headed to Washington after a hiatus without a family member in Congress for the first time in 60 years.
The former county prosecutor, the great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy, defeated Sean Bielat, a Marine reservist and businessman.
The solidly Democratic seat in the Newton area was opened with the retirement of longtime Democratic Rep. Barney Frank.
Kennedy carried not only the family name and recognizable looks, but also a large campaign fund, as he ran on his background as a county prosecutor and former Peace Corps worker. He is one of the twin sons of former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.
The 112th Congress was without a representative from the Kennedy family after the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy in August 2009 and the decision by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., not to seek re-election in 2010. Before that, Congress had a Kennedy since John F. Kennedy joined the House in 1947.
Voters make their choices at Kingpin
Many Americans vote at schools; others at churches or community centers. But a bowling alley?
That’s where some folks in North Dakota cast their votes Tuesday. In Mandan, the Kingpin Lounge at the Midway Lanes was transformed into a polling place.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp voted there with her son, Nathan. She said she’s been voting at the alley for years and doesn’t think it’s odd at all.
Jackson Jr., on medical leave, wins again
Though he is hospitalized with mental health problems and declined to campaign, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., claimed victory in his re-election bid to the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Jackson was leading with 64 percent of the vote, based on unofficial returns with 66 percent of precincts counted, in the 2nd congressional district.
Jackson, 47, a 17-year veteran of Congress, suffers from bipolar disorder. He has been on medical leave and not appeared in the House since June 8. Nor did he stage a campaign event – or even run a TV ad. But Jackson did address voters in a recent robocall.
Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, was challenged by two opponents: Republican Brian Woodworth, 41, a college educator, and independent Marcus Lewis, 53, a Matteson postal worker. Neither had run for public office before.
Poll worker notches 75th year of service
There are people who believe in voting, and then there’s Elisa Kennedy. The National Association of Secretaries of State honored California’s longest-serving poll worker with a medal Tuesday for her years of service – 75 of them, to be exact.
Kennedy, 96, born before women got the vote, began volunteering as a poll worker in San Francisco shortly after she reached eligible voting age. FDR was president – and it was his first term.
“A lot has changed in politics and in the world since Elisa first volunteered as a poll worker 75 years ago, but her commitment to democracy and her devotion to her community has remained constant,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement.
Kennedy, who has worked nearly 120 elections, said it’s the “wonderful people” who keep her coming back.