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Nov. 6, 2018, 7:41 p.m. EST

Exit polls suggest midterm election voters focused on health care and immigration, not the booming economy

Trump’s tax and trade policies don’t get rave reviews in exit polls

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By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch

Getty Images
Voters cast ballots at a polling place on Tuesday in Kirkwood, Mo.

Health care ranked as the most important issue for voters in the 2018 midterm election, while immigration was No. 2 and the economy was third, according to preliminary results for exit polls.

Some 41% of voters picked health care as the top issue facing the country, compared with 23% favoring immigration, 21% picking the economy and 11% going with gun policy.

That comes after health care /zigman2/quotes/205918244/composite XLV +0.16% was the standout issue of Campaign 2018 in ads and candidates’ websites, as one MarketWatch report put it.

Voters tend to pay the economy less heed when it’s doing well, another recent MarketWatch report said. Even so, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan had asked President Donald Trump to talk up the booming economy ahead of Election Day, rather than continuing to hammer on immigration-related matters.

Related: Midterm elections results: live blog, analysis and market impact

Two of the Trump administration’s key economic policies didn’t get rave reviews from voters taking part in exit polls, a development that could bode well for Democrats. Regarding the big tax overhaul, some 45% said they had seen no impact from it, while 28% said they’d been helped and 23% said they’d been hurt.

Just 25% said Trump’s trade policies have helped their local economy, while 31% said they they’ve been hurt and 36% said they’ve seen no impact.

Some 44% of voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 55% disapproved.

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Victor Reklaitis is MarketWatch's Money & Politics reporter and is based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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