In a dramatic shift of allegiance, two voting blocs abandoned the Republican Party in Tuesday's election. First, married Mothers and Married Men were decisive factors for the Republicans in 2000 and in 2004, but in the mid-term elections of 2006 they were as likely to vote Democratic as Republican. And second, evangelical support of Republican candidates dropped from 74 percent in 2004 to 69 percent in 2006.
Married Mothers and Married Men –– the M&Ms –– are very concerned about issues affecting their families, especially issues related to their children's well-being and future. Families had such high hopes when conservatives were in power; they ended up discouraged, disappointed and disillusioned.
In terms of how groups voted, there were slight, but very significant changes from 2002 to 2006 that spelled disaster for the GOP.
• More Republicans voted for Democrats (9 percent), than Democrats voted for Republicans (6 percent).
• More conservatives voted for Democrats (21 percent), than liberals voted for Republicans (10 percent).
• Nearly 30 percent (29 percent) of White Evangelicals voted for Democrats, and 54 percent of those who attend church weekly voted for Democrats.
• Among voters who thought that the scandals were "extremely important," 53 percent voted Democrat.
Though roughly the same percentage of evangelicals voted in 2006 as voted in 2002 (24 and 25 percent), there was a 2 percentage point drop in conservatives who voted (34 percent in 2002 compared with 32 percent in 2006). Also, there was an increase in the percentage of liberals who voted; in 2002, 17 percent of voters identified themselves as liberal compared to 21 percent in 2006.
Finally, pessimistic voters dominated this election. More than half of the voters (56 percent) said that the country is on the wrong track, nearly six in ten voters said that they disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job (down from 2004), and 61 percent of voters disapprove of the Republican-controlled Congress.