Poll: GOP voters seek change; Dems want Obama sequel
Washington — Sorry, Marco Rubio: Republicans seem more interested in finding a presidential candidate who is a change agent or shares their values than selecting somebody who can win in November.
Sorry, Bernie Sanders: Democratic primary voters seem more interested in continuing President Barack Obama’s policies than in shifting in a more liberal direction.
Exit polls show Donald Trump piled up victories in Super Tuesday states with strong support from voters who want a candidate who “tells it like it is” and with backing from 4 in 10 voters who want change. Ted Cruz dominated among those looking for a candidate who shares their values. And Rubio led on electability — but only about 1 in 10 GOP voters put a priority on finding a candidate who can win in November.
Among Democrats, Clinton amassed Super Tuesday victories by drawing support from three-fourths of voters who want a president who will continue Obama’s policies. Sanders got 6 in 10 voters who are looking for more liberal policies, but only about 3 in 10 Democratic voters felt that way, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.
Other highlights from the exit polls:
Portrait of a Trump voter
Nearly 9 in 10 of Trump’s voters are looking for an outsider. Half are angry with the government. Four in 10 want a candidate willing to “tell it like it is.” Four in 10 said they were born again, cutting into Cruz’s efforts to claim the evangelical vote. Trump, who has professed mutual admiration with “poorly educated voters,” was favored by 4 in 10 voters without a college degree. His followers are nothing if not loyal: Nearly 6 in 10 of his voters made up their minds more than a month ago.
Portrait of a Clinton voter
More than 90 percent of Clinton’s voters want a candidate with political experience, and four in 10 say experience is the quality they are looking for in a candidate. Two-thirds of her voters want to continue President Barack Obama’s policies, rather than shift in a more liberal direction. And, just as with Trump, 6 in 10 of her backers made up their mind more than a month ago. Nearly two-thirds of her supporters are women, and two-thirds are 45 or older.
Sour on Washington
GOP voters across the nine Super Tuesday primary states were in a sour mood toward Washington. If they weren’t angry, they were dissatisfied: At least 9 in 10 Republican primary voters had negative thoughts toward Washington. Democrats were not quite as critical: Just under 6 in 10 had negative opinions about the federal government.
Sanders’ bright spot
Oklahoma turned out to be a rare bright spot for Sanders beyond his home base of Vermont. What was his magic formula so far from home? He held on to the 30-to-44-year-olds who divided their votes about evenly elsewhere on Super Tuesday. Sanders claimed 8 in 10 voters under age 30, and 7 in 10 of those aged 30-44. Clinton got only about half the votes of those 45 and older.
Go figure: Sanders did the best in the night’s most liberal state (Vermont) and the least liberal state (Oklahoma), where less than half of Democratic voters described themselves as liberal.
With victories in his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma, Cruz did well in the two states with voters who were looking for someone who shares their values. More than half of Texas GOP voters who placed importance on shared values, and nearly half of those in Oklahoma, said they voted for Cruz. Cruz also drew support from white born-again Christians, who represented two-thirds of voters in Oklahoma and half of Republicans in Texas. In both states, Cruz was backed by at least 4 in 10 of them.
In addition to doing well with voters interested in electability, Rubio did well with voters looking for experience. That mattered to about 4 in 10 GOP voters. Late-deciders also were an encouragement to him: More than half of Rubio’s supporters were people who made up their minds in the last week, when he went on the offensive to try to take down Trump.
Women, blacks and older voters all bolstered Clinton’s standing. She showed the same strength among African-Americans that she did in South Carolina, supported by at least 80 percent of black voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. Black voters made up more than half of voters in both Alabama and Georgia, a third in Tennessee and about a quarter of Virginia and Arkansas. In Texas, where a third of voters were Hispanic, 7 in 10 of them voted for Clinton.
Clinton made inroads on Super Tuesday with young-ish (30-44) voters, nearly 6 in 10 of whom supported her. Sanders, by contrast, had led among all voters under age 45 in the first three contests of the year, in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Honesty v. experience
Democratic voters across each of the nine primary states had very different priorities as they chose between Clinton and Sanders.
Nearly half of Clinton’s voters said experience was the quality they were looking for, while only about a fifth or less selected electability, empathy or honesty.
Nearly half of Sanders’ voters said honesty was the most important quality and about a third said they were looking for someone who cares.
The surveys were conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 20 to 40 randomly selected sites in nine states holding primary elections Tuesday.
Preliminary results include interviews with 821 to 1,491 Democratic primary voters and 536 to 1,943 Republicans primary voters in each state contest. In Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, the results also include telephone interviews early and absentee voters. The results among all those voting in each contest have a margin of sampling error ranging from plus or minus 4 percentage points to plus or minus 5 percentage points.