The conservative tilt of this electorate, particularly amid such high turnout, bodes ill for Democrats. But the exit polls also hint at opportunities for compromise and progress. A narrow majority of voters said the Supreme Court should keep Obamacare “as is,” not overturn it. Two-thirds said wearing masks in public was more a “public health responsibility” than a “personal choice.” And two-thirds said climate change was “a serious problem.”
These numbers will change somewhat as votes are tallied and the composition of the electorate is reassessed. But the patterns so far suggest several lessons. One, Democrats are having trouble attracting self-identified Christians. Two, they can’t count on the votes of people of color, just because the Republican candidate is overtly racist. Three, they need better turnout on the left. And four, they need to consolidate a majority of independent voters. If they don’t fix these problems, they could be looking at difficult maps for a long time to come.