Ed Morrissey interprets the exit polls’ breakdown of the electorate, particularly in terms of their implications for the GOP going into the next election cycle:
The GOP made slight gains in 2014 over 201o among blacks, 18-29YOs, the middle class, and a large jump among Asian-Americans. They lost ground among women, Latinos, independents, seniors and 30-44YOs, and both working class and the wealthy. None of these declines went into double digits, but aside from the income demos, they all exceed the margin of error in the polling.
Kilgore focuses on what Democrats will need to do to recapture their key demos in 2016:
[A]nother way to look at it is that minority voting preferences are returning to their pre-Obama level — still strongly Democratic, but not so strongly that in a poor turnout year they offset the heightened Republican preferences of white voters. … What are the implications, then, for the election cycle we have just entered? Some of the Republican advantage can be expected to melt away instantly due to the age and race/ethnicity differential for a presidential cycle. That shift will apply to downballot races as well. So a more favorable-to-Democrats electorate will vote on a Senate landscape as difficult for Republicans as this year’s was difficult for Democrats. The GOP will need all those wins from yesterday to survive Election Night in 2016 with a majority intact.
But more generally, and with respect to the presidential election itself, the big question is whether Barack Obama’s successor can recapture his extraordinarily high vote percentages among young and minority voters, and/or make inroads among the older and whiter voters who have now consistently rebuffed him and his party in three straight cycles.
Putting demographics aside, Sean Trende calls the election a victory for the fundamentals model:
Back in February of this year, I put together a simple, fundamentals-based analysis of the elections, based off of nothing more than presidential job approval and incumbency. That was it. It suggested that if Barack Obama’s job approval was 44 percent, Republicans should pick up nine Senate seats. Obama’s job approval was 44 percent in exit polls of the electorate, and it appears that Republicans are on pace to pick up nine Senate seats. Moreover, only one Democrat — Natalie Tennant in West Virginia — ran more than 10 points ahead of the president’s job approval.