As voters left polling places Tuesday, a majority told exit poll interviewers they felt the country was “seriously off on the wrong track.” But the mood of the electorate was markedly more optimistic than it was four years ago, when a record three out of four voters said the country was on the wrong track.
In preliminary results from early voters in the national NBC News exit poll, 52 percent said America was on the wrong track while 46 percent said the nation was"generally going in the right direction."
Preliminary results from exit polls also showed that most voters, 53 percent, thought the federal government is doing too much, a sharp contrast with four years ago, when the country was in the midst of a financial and economic crisis. At that time only 43 percent of voters said the government was doing too much and a majority, 51 percent, thought the government ought to do more to try to solve the nation’s problems.
Not surprisingly three out of five voters Tuesday said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, but poll respondents were divided as to what specific economic challenge loomed largest.
When asked, “Which one of these four is the biggest economic problem facing people like you?” 39 percent chose unemployment, nearly that many (36 percent) said rising prices, while 14 percent said taxes were the biggest problem and 7 percent said housing.
Voters in preliminary exit poll results were sharply divided in their views of the president’s signature first-term accomplishment, enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which aims to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
Twenty-five percent favored total repeal of the 2010 law, while another 23 percent wanted to see some of it repealed. Nineteen percent favored leaving the law as it is, and another 25 percent want expansion of the law.
Exit poll interviews will continue across the nation as voters cast their ballots Tuesday; some of the preliminary results may be modified later in the evening as more data becomes available.
More election coverage from NBCNews.com:
- Obama, Romney campaigns play the waiting game
- What to watch for when the results roll in
- GOP faces difficult climb to Senate control
- Republicans in driver's seat to protect House majority
- In 11 governor races, it's about jobs and taxes
- Voting in areas hit by Sandy is 'first step toward recovery'
- GOP leaders draw line on taxes ahead of results