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Exit Polls: How McCain Won

Updated 11:20 p.m.
By Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta
Network exit polls out of Florida show the economy was the breakaway issue, with more than four in 10 GOP voters and more than half of Democrats calling it nation's top concern. Three in 10 Republican voters said experience was the top quality they're looking for in a candidate; that's more than said so in other states. Change was again the top attribute Democrats were seeking. As they were in previous elections, both electorates were substantially older than they have been in other states to vote.

On the Republican side, more than six in 10 voters were conservative, including more than a quarter who said they are "very conservative." About three in 10 were military veterans, a third were seniors and 17 percent described themselves as independents. Hispanics made up 12 percent of all voters, up from 7 percent in 2000.

On the Democratic side, about six in 10 voters were female, three in 10 were aged 65 or older. African Americans made up 19 percent of voters; Hispanics 12 percent.

Among Republicans:
Top issue: economy 45%, terrorism 21%, immigration 16%, Iraq 14%
Top candidate quality: shares my values 37%, has the right experience 30%, says what he believes 21%, best chance to win in Nov. 9%
Feelings toward the Bush administration's policies: 68% percent positive, 32% percent negative.

Among Democrats:
Top issue: economy 55%, Iraq 24%, health care 18%
Top candidate quality: bring about needed change 50%, has the right experience 21%, cares about people like me 16%, best chance to win in Nov. 9%

GOP detail: McCain did well among Hispanics (54 percent to Giuliani's 24 percent; Romney at 14 percent) and among self-described independents, who went 44 percent for McCain, 23 percent for Romney, 13 percent Giuliani and 11 percent Huckabee. Among self-identified Republicans, it was evenly divided between McCain and Romney (both 33 percent), with Giuliani trailing at 16 percent, Huckabee at 15 percent.

Seniors made up a third of all GOP voters, down from 44 percent in 2000, and they went for McCain over Romney by 10 percentage points. Romney was up big among "very conservative" voters (Romney 44 percent, McCain 21 percent, Huckabee 20 percent), while McCain beat Romney by 2 to 1 among moderates and liberals, and the two split those who are "somewhat conservative" about evenly (McCain 35 percent, Romney 32 percent).

Romney has an advantage among immigration voters (43 percent to 25 percent for McCain); McCain among those calling Iraq the top issue (McCain 45 percent, Romney and 19 percent). McCain had a slight edge among economy voters (40 percent to 32 percent), while terrorism voters are split three-ways: Romney 29 percent, McCain 26 percent and Giuliani 25 percent.

The Bush factor:Those who have a negative view of the Bush administration's policies, McCain outdistanced Romney by 22 percentage points; among those with a positive opinion broke for Romney by a narrow 4-point edge.

Romney and McCain split higher-income voters evenly; McCain had the edge among those with family incomes of $50K or less.

Those attending religious services more than once a week went for Huckabee by a 14-point margin over Romney, but this was the only group he clearly won. The former Arkansas governor was closely competitive with Romney for white evangelical protestants, a quarter of whom supported McCain. That's the best McCain has done so far among these voters. Huckabee remains dependent on evangelical voters; among non-evangelicals he's in the low single-digits.

McCain had a 2-to-1 lead over Giuliani among Hispanics; whites divide 34 percent for Romney, 33 percent for McCain. Among the 7 percent who were Cuban, McCain has a 22-point edge over Giuliani, with Romney not quite getting to double-digits.

Absentees (24 percent of all voters) did not provide a boost for Giuliani: he trailed both McCain and Romney among these voters.

Military voters went for McCain by a narrow margin over Romney (42 percent to 35 percent).

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 29, 2008; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Primaries , The GOP , The Pollster  
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