WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers speaks at the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference held at the Department of Interior Building on November 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama meet with leaders of 566 Native American tribes earlier in the day at teh White House.National Journal

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

Men and women's politics were further apart in 2014 than they've been in any U.S. election in two decades.

That's one of many hard truths laid bare by the midterms, which generated a huge collection of data—from election returns to exit polls to financial disclosures—to help us make sense of two things: what exactly happened in the November elections and what it means going forward.

The top lines are obvious: Republicans took the Senate, padded their lead in the House, and grabbed contested wins in gubernatorial races. But here are seven numbers that illustrate what was going on beneath the surface.

44: Obama's Approval Rating

The most important number in this year's national exit poll: 44 percent. That's the low share of voters who approved of President Obama's job performance, compared with 55 percent who said they disapproved of the president. That's as bad as the president's ratings were in the 2010 election, and numbers that low are very difficult for Democratic candidates to outrun by enough to win. Critically, Obama was in particularly bad shape in this year's Senate battlegrounds. In 2010, the exits showed Obama still doing better than average in swing states such as Colorado and Nevada—where Democratic candidates still managed to win—and even New Hampshire, where Democrats' Senate candidate still lost badly.

In 2014, though, Obama's approval ratings were particularly dreadful in the states that happened to have big Senate races. Some of that was a function of this year's Senate map. Obama was never popular in red states such as Alaska or Arkansas (where only 30 percent of voters said they approved of the president), but Obama also fell well below his national average in a quintessential swing state like Iowa, which Obama won twice. Just 39 percent of voters told exit pollsters there that they approved of the president, and like most of his colleagues, Democratic candidate Bruce Braley just couldn't persuade enough Obama disapprovers to support him. In Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Mark Warner faced a surprisingly close race, just 40 percent of voters approved of Obama, but Warner's personal brand looks like it retained just enough strength to boost him to a second term.

20: The Gender Gap

Republicans won male voters 57 percent to 41 percent in the 2014 elections, a whopping 16-point margin, according to the exit polls. That's slightly better than the GOP did among men even during the 2010 wave election. But Democrats also improved among female voters compared with four years ago, carrying women by a 4-point margin, 51 percent to 47 percent.

That 20-point gender gap between men's support for Republicans and women's support for Democrats is the largest recorded in the national House exit poll in two decades, since the 1994 elections. Even as the GOP exposed Democrats problem with male voters, the party couldn't attract women's votes like it did in the last Republican wave election. Democrats spent 2014 hammering GOP candidates on "women's issues" from birth control and abortion to education, while Republicans countered with arguments on national security in Colorado and other key states.

Several individual state races also had unusually large gender gaps in 2014. In New Hampshire, one of the few Senate battleground states that Democrats won, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen won women by 19 percentage points while losing men by 11 points, per the exit poll. Only seven Senate or gubernatorial races from 2004 through 2012 (out of more than 200) had gender gaps as big as that 30-point spread in New Hampshire; the average over that time span was 13 points. In other states, very strong GOP performance among men pushed the unusually large gender gaps in Republicans' favor. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker carried men by 21 points while losing women by 9 points, creating another historic 30-point gender gap. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan lost North Carolina despite winning among women by 12 percentage points, because she lost among men by 15 points.

4: Losing Governors

Incumbent governors don't lose very often. But the uncertain economy and general dissatisfaction with government combined to put a number of state chief executives in danger this fall, and four states actually gave their incumbents the boot. Sean Parnell (Alaska), Pat Quinn (Illinois), and Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania) all lost their general elections, while Hawaii Democrats defeated Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his primary. All in all, more governors lost reelection this year than in any election since 2002, according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

5: The Leftover "Romney Democrats"

After the November election, almost every Democrat left in the House represents a district that President Obama carried in 2012. Only five House Democrats are left in "crossover" territory, where Mitt Romney won more voters in the last presidential election. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona), Patrick Murphy (Florida), and Collin Peterson (Minnesota) all won reelection even as Democrats lost six other Romney-carried seats, while two Democratic challengers—Gwen Graham in Florida and Brad Ashford in Nebraska—defeated flawed Republican incumbents in right-leaning battleground districts.

Five is also the number of Senate Democrats left from states that Romney carried in 2012: Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), and Jon Tester (Montana). (Their ranks could expand to six if Mary Landrieu manages to win reelection in her Louisiana Senate runoff, but she is a heavy underdog at this point.) Republicans, meanwhile, now hold 11 Senate seats in Obama states, including both seats from Iowa.

Even though House Republicans expanded the number of "Obama districts" they hold, there are still only three dozen or so crossover seats in the next House of Representatives. It's not as low as in 2013 and 2014, when there were just 26, but it's very low compared with recent statistics. Just a decade ago, there were 59 ticket-splitting districts, and even that was low in a historical context.

(Rep. Ron Barber trails narrowly in his reelection race in Arizona, pending an automatic recount. If Barber manages to win, that will boost the number of Romney Democrats in the next Congress to six.)

13,489,481: The Most Expensive House Race Ever?

Before 2012, there had never been a House race that attracted more than $10 million in outside spending, according to the independent expenditure tracker at the Center for Responsive Politics. That all changed one election ago, though, when party committees and PACs combined to hit eight figures in two House districts.

In 2014, groups spent more than $10 million—on top of what the candidates themselves raised and spent—in at least seven House districts around the country, according to CRP. The most expensive race on the list: California's 7th District, where groups spent $13,489,481 on the race between freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Doug Ose, a former House member.

The thing is, the actual number of eight-figure House races might be even higher. Not all outside-group spending is in independent expenditures. Political nonprofits like Americans for Prosperity spent millions of dollars on TV ads and other activity in Arizona, West Virginia, and elsewhere that wasn't disclosed, which pushes the true outside spending number even higher. According to a Democrat who tracked the ad buys, AFP spent nearly $1 million in Arizona-1, which had more than $12 million in disclosed outside spending, while the group also dropped nearly $500,000 on TV in Florida-26, where there was nearly $9.1 million in disclosed outside spending, too.

47: Turnover Since 2010

Some observers question why Congress no longer acts like the Congresses they watched operate for years in Washington. The answer may be, simply, that it's really not the same Congress. Both House and Senate membership has changed briskly in recent years, thanks to successive wave elections. Nearly half of the House of Representatives (47 percent) has been elected since 2010.

The Senate, with its six-year terms and generally older members, has a reputation for evolving more slowly than its counterpart on the other side of the Capitol. But 44 of the 100 senators in the next Congress have been elected since 2010, too, a barely slower pace.

Another indication of how quickly the Senate has changed: Republicans have been out of the majority for only eight years. But way less than half of their conference (21 senators) has ever served in the Senate majority before.

39: Democrats' Southern Collapse

The last time Democrats held fewer than 40 congressional seats in the South (previously defined by National Journal as the 11 states of the Old Confederacy plus Oklahoma and Kentucky), Union soldiers were still deployed in Southern states to enforce Reconstruction policies. But because Democratic candidates lost seats in Texas and Georgia—where Rep. John Barrow was the last white Democrat representing a Deep South state in the House—and broke even in Florida in 2014, there will be only  39 Southern Democrats in Congress next year, most of them from urban and majority-minority districts. Republicans will hold 110 of the 149 seats in the South, their highest share ever, and the GOP's historically large majority will be anchored in those 13 states, with nearly half of the Republican Conference hailing from the South.

Incidentally, that GOP majority—which looks likely to hit 247 seats when every race is called—will be the party's largest share of the House since after the 1928 elections. Republicans took 246 congressional seats in the 1946 elections.

44: Obama's Approval Rating

The most important number in this year's national exit poll: 44 percent. That's the low share of voters who approved of President Obama's job performance, compared with 55 percent who said they disapproved of the president. That's as bad as the president's ratings were in the 2010 election, and numbers that low are very difficult for Democratic candidates to outrun by enough to win. Critically, Obama was in particularly bad shape in this year's Senate battlegrounds. In 2010, the exits showed Obama still doing better than average in swing states such as Colorado and Nevada—where Democratic candidates still managed to win—and even New Hampshire, where Democrats' Senate candidate still lost badly.

In 2014, though, Obama's approval ratings were particularly dreadful in the states that happened to have big Senate races. Some of that was a function of this year's Senate map. Obama was never popular in red states such as Alaska or Arkansas (where only 30 percent of voters said they approved of the president), but Obama also fell well below his national average in a quintessential swing state like Iowa, which Obama won twice. Just 39 percent of voters told exit pollsters there that they approved of the president, and like most of his colleagues, Democratic candidate Bruce Braley just couldn't persuade enough Obama disapprovers to support him. In Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Mark Warner faced a surprisingly close race, just 40 percent of voters approved of Obama, but Warner's personal brand looks like it retained just enough strength to boost him to a second term.

20: The Gender Gap

Republicans won male voters 57 percent to 41 percent in the 2014 elections, a whopping 16-point margin, according to the exit polls. That's slightly better than the GOP did among men even during the 2010 wave election. But Democrats also improved among female voters compared with four years ago, carrying women by a 4-point margin, 51 percent to 47 percent.

That 20-point gender gap between men's support for Republicans and women's support for Democrats is the largest recorded in the national House exit poll in two decades, since the 1994 elections. Even as the GOP exposed Democrats problem with male voters, the party couldn't attract women's votes like it did in the last Republican wave election. Democrats spent 2014 hammering GOP candidates on "women's issues" from birth control and abortion to education, while Republicans countered with arguments on national security in Colorado and other key states.

Several individual state races also had unusually large gender gaps in 2014. In New Hampshire, one of the few Senate battleground states that Democrats won, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen won women by 19 percentage points while losing men by 11 points, per the exit poll. Only seven Senate or gubernatorial races from 2004 through 2012 (out of more than 200) had gender gaps as big as that 30-point spread in New Hampshire; the average over that time span was 13 points. In other states, very strong GOP performance among men pushed the unusually large gender gaps in Republicans' favor. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker carried men by 21 points while losing women by 9 points, creating another historic 30-point gender gap. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan lost North Carolina despite winning among women by 12 percentage points, because she lost among men by 15 points.

4: Losing Governors

Incumbent governors don't lose very often. But the uncertain economy and general dissatisfaction with government combined to put a number of state chief executives in danger this fall, and four states actually gave their incumbents the boot. Sean Parnell (Alaska), Pat Quinn (Illinois), and Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania) all lost their general elections, while Hawaii Democrats defeated Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his primary. All in all, more governors lost reelection this year than in any election since 2002, according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

5: The Leftover "Romney Democrats"

After the November election, almost every Democrat left in the House represents a district that President Obama carried in 2012. Only five House Democrats are left in "crossover" territory, where Mitt Romney won more voters in the last presidential election. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona), Patrick Murphy (Florida), and Collin Peterson (Minnesota) all won reelection even as Democrats lost six other Romney-carried seats, while two Democratic challengers—Gwen Graham in Florida and Brad Ashford in Nebraska—defeated flawed Republican incumbents in right-leaning battleground districts.

Five is also the number of Senate Democrats left from states that Romney carried in 2012: Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), and Jon Tester (Montana). (Their ranks could expand to six if Mary Landrieu manages to win reelection in her Louisiana Senate runoff, but she is a heavy underdog at this point.) Republicans, meanwhile, now hold 11 Senate seats in Obama states, including both seats from Iowa.

Even though House Republicans expanded the number of "Obama districts" they hold, there are still only three dozen or so crossover seats in the next House of Representatives. It's not as low as in 2013 and 2014, when there were just 26, but it's very low compared with recent statistics. Just a decade ago, there were 59 ticket-splitting districts, and even that was low in a historical context.

(Rep. Ron Barber trails narrowly in his reelection race in Arizona, pending an automatic recount. If Barber manages to win, that will boost the number of Romney Democrats in the next Congress to six.)

13,489,481: The Most Expensive House Race Ever?

Before 2012, there had never been a House race that attracted more than $10 million in outside spending, according to the independent expenditure tracker at the Center for Responsive Politics. That all changed one election ago, though, when party committees and PACs combined to hit eight figures in two House districts.

In 2014, groups spent more than $10 million—on top of what the candidates themselves raised and spent—in at least seven House districts around the country, according to CRP. The most expensive race on the list: California's 7th District, where groups spent $13,489,481 on the race between freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Doug Ose, a former House member.

The thing is, the actual number of eight-figure House races might be even higher. Not all outside-group spending is in independent expenditures. Political nonprofits like Americans for Prosperity spent millions of dollars on TV ads and other activity in Arizona, West Virginia, and elsewhere that wasn't disclosed, which pushes the true outside spending number even higher. According to a Democrat who tracked the ad buys, AFP spent nearly $1 million in Arizona-1, which had more than $12 million in disclosed outside spending, while the group also dropped nearly $500,000 on TV in Florida-26, where there was nearly $9.1 million in disclosed outside spending, too.

47: Turnover Since 2010

Some observers question why Congress no longer acts like the Congresses they watched operate for years in Washington. The answer may be, simply, that it's really not the same Congress. Both House and Senate membership has changed briskly in recent years, thanks to successive wave elections. Nearly half of the House of Representatives (47 percent) has been elected since 2010.

The Senate, with its six-year terms and generally older members, has a reputation for evolving more slowly than its counterpart on the other side of the Capitol. But 44 of the 100 senators in the next Congress have been elected since 2010, too, a barely slower pace.

Another indication of how quickly the Senate has changed: Republicans have been out of the majority for only eight years. But way less than half of their conference (21 senators) has ever served in the Senate majority before.

39: Democrats' Southern Collapse

The last time Democrats held fewer than 40 congressional seats in the South (previously defined by National Journal as the 11 states of the Old Confederacy plus Oklahoma and Kentucky), Union soldiers were still deployed in Southern states to enforce Reconstruction policies. But because Democratic candidates lost seats in Texas and Georgia—where Rep. John Barrow was the last white Democrat representing a Deep South state in the House—and broke even in Florida in 2014, there will be only  39 Southern Democrats in Congress next year, most of them from urban and majority-minority districts. Republicans will hold 110 of the 149 seats in the South, their highest share ever, and the GOP's historically large majority will be anchored in those 13 states, with nearly half of the Republican Conference hailing from the South.

Incidentally, that GOP majority—which looks likely to hit 247 seats when every race is called—will be the party's largest share of the House since after the 1928 elections. Republicans took 246 congressional seats in the 1946 elections.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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