Going into Election Day, some saw the approaching outcome as a referendum on the role of government. Others believed it to be a referendum on President Obama’s health care reform law. If it was, it didn’t help Mitt Romney much.
A close look at swing state exit polls shows the majority of voters there backed the conservative position on both issues.
As to the role of government, a majority of national voters - 51% - said the government should be less involved in their lives. Six of the eight swing states exceeded the national average on that same question, with 6 in 10 voters in Iowa and Colorado calling for smaller government.
As to health care reform, national exit polls showed that voters who wanted to repeal at least part of the law outnumbered those who wanted to keep the law intact by a 5-point margin, 49% to 44%.
In the swing states, the margin in favor of some form of repeal was as high as 16 points in Colorado, and the plurality in six of the eight states backed the Republican position. Only Wisconsin saw a plurality supporting the law by a 49% to 46% margin.
Despite the fact that in nearly every case these swing states leaned Republican on these two major issues, Romney didn’t win a single one of them. The failure to parlay a popular message into a winning margin is a tough outcome that the GOP will examine very closely in the months to come.