Women, blacks and older voters helped Hillary Clinton claim Super Tuesday victories in Virginia and Georgia, while Democratic rival Bernie Sanders claimed a clear advantage only with his devoted under-30 following in those two states.
Showing the same strength among African-Americans that she did in South Carolina, Clinton was supported by about 8 in 10 black voters in Virginia and Georgia, according to early results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research. Black voters made up about half of Democratic voters in Georgia and about a quarter of Virginia.
It was a different story in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, where the two-term senator claimed overwhelming majorities of both men and women, and huge majorities of voters across all age groups. Half of Vermont Democrats said they want the next president’s policies to be more liberal than Barack Obama’s – far more than in any other state voting Tuesday.
Other highlights from the exit poll:
OUTSIDER vs EXPERIENCE
GOP voters in Virginia and Georgia who were looking for an outsider delivered a majority of their votes to billionaire businessman Donald Trump, a relentless critic of all things Washington. Those looking for a candidate with political experience? They were more likely to support Marco Rubio, a first-term senator who rejects the Washington insider label.
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 8 in 10 Republican primary voters had negative thoughts toward Washington.
The negative sentiments popped up all around the country: The dissatisfied outnumbered the angry and accounted for half or more of Republican voters in Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts. In Texas, half of GOP primary voters said they were angry. In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee, GOP voters were more evenly split between dissatisfaction and anger.
On the Democratic side, meanwhile, voters in 8 of 9 primary states were more likely to want a continuation of President Barack Obama’s policies than a shift in a more liberal direction, as advocated by Sanders.
Majorities of Democratic voters in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia said they want a continuation of Obama’s policies, along with more than 4 in 10 voters in Arkansas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Texas. In each of those states, about a third of Democratic voters or less want a switch to more liberal policies. In Sen. Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont, about half of Democratic primary voters said they want the next president to change to more liberal policies.
HONESTY v. EXPERIENCE
Democratic voters across each of the nine states had very different priorities as they chose between Hillary 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.
On the Republican side, 4 in 10 of Trump’s voters in the nine states said “telling it like it is” was the most important quality in a candidate, and a third said they were looking for a candidate to bring about change. About 55 percent of Ted Cruz’s voters said sharing values was most important, as did 4 in 10 of Rubio’s voters.
Overall, white voters accounted for half of voters, or less, in three of the nine Democratic primaries where exit polls were conducted on Super Tuesday.
Nearly half of Democratic primary voters in Alabama and Georgia were black. In Texas, about 3 in 10 Democratic primary voters were Hispanic and a little less than 2 in 10 were black.
In three other states – Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee – black voters accounted for about a quarter of Democratic primary voters.
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 534 to 997 Democratic primary voters and 328 to 1,313 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 7 percentage points.