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Inside Politics

Corruption named as key issue by voters in exit polls

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(CNN) -- By a wide margin, Americans who voted Tuesday in the midterm election say they disapprove of the war in Iraq.

But when asked which issue was extremely important to their vote, more voters said corruption and ethics in government than any other issue, including the war, according to national exit polls.

A large majority of voters also disapproved of how Congress and President Bush are doing their jobs. However, Bush fared slightly better on that score than members of the GOP-led Congress.

And defying the traditional political maxim that "all politics is local," 62 percent of voters said national issues mattered more than local issues when deciding which House candidate to pick. (Watch how national issues are playing a more critical role than local issues, which could favor the Democrats -- 2:19 Video)

These numbers are based on interviews conducted with voters on Tuesday morning and afternoon.

Exit poll interviewers, working on behalf of the Associated Press, CNN and four other networks, were stationed at about 1,000 precincts around the country Tuesday, asking voters to describe themselves and their opinions on important issues.

For the first time, media representatives were restricted at the computer facility where the data was being collected to prevent any early disclosure.

Asked which issues were extremely important to their vote, 42 percent said corruption and ethics; 40 percent, terrorism; 39 percent, the economy; 37 percent, Iraq; 36 percent, values; and 29 percent, illegal immigration.

As Democrats had hoped, among voters who were against the war in Iraq, almost nine out of 10 said they chose a Democratic House candidate.

But those who approved of the war chose the Republicans by nearly the same margin.

And despite Republican attempts to paint the Democrats as unable to handle terrorism, a majority of voters said they believed both parties were capable of handling that issue.

Asked if they approved of how Congress is handling its job, 62 percent said they did not, while just 36 percent said they did.

Despite good economic news in recent days that GOP leaders hoped would boost their fortunes, voters were split nearly equally on whether the economy is in good or poor shape, according to the early exit poll results.

The exit polls showed that 29 percent of voters felt their families' financial situations were better than they were two years ago, while 25 percent said they were worse and 45 percent said they were unchanged.

Those who said their financial condition hadn't changed chose Democratic House candidates over Republicans, 57 percent to 40 percent. That number increased to 79 percent among those who said their financial condition was worse.

Of the voters who thought their economic prospects had improved, 70 percent voted for Republican House candidates.

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