Conservative Voters Outnumbered Republicans, Democrats and Independents in Tuesday’s Election, Says Network Exit Poll

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 3, 2010 | 11:17 AM EDT

Campaign signs for Senator John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Democratic challenger Justin Coussoule are posted in neighboring yards, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, in Hamilton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

( - Self-identified conservatives were a larger share of the electorate in Tuesday's congressional elections than either self-identified Republicans or Democrats or Independents, according to the exit poll conducted for the major television networks by Edison Research.

Of the Americans who voted in U.S. House elections on Tuesday, 41 percent said they were conservatives, 39 percent said they were moderates, and 20 percent said they were liberals.

At the same time, only 36 percent said they were Republicans while 36 percent said they were Democrats and 28 percent who said they were Independents.

Self-identified conservatives did not always vote for the Republican House candidate, according to the exit poll. Eighty-four percent said they did vote for a Republican, but 14 percent said they voted for a Democrat. Two percent of conservative voters told the exit poll they voted for a House candidate who was not a Republican or a Democrat or did not answer the question.

The 39 percent of voters who said they were moderate split 56 percent to 42 percent in favor of Democratic House candidates over Republicans. The 20 percent who said they were liberal split 90 percent to 8 percent in favor of Democratic House candidates over Republicans.

The exit-poll numbers indicate that the relatively large conservative turnout and general preference among conservatives for Republican House candidates was instrumental in the Republican Party winning a majority of the House of Representatives.

Edison Research exit-poll takers interviewed 17,504 voters on Tuesday at randomly selected precincts all across the country.