Exit poll: Clinton expands base, Trump sells outsider image
Hillary Clinton held on to older people and ate into Bernie Sanders' support among the 30-to-44 crowd on Super Tuesday as her rival claimed a clear advantage with only one age group: his devoted under-30 followers.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump and his mad-as-hell message pulled in nearly two-thirds of voters looking to install an outsider in the White House. Those more interested in a candidate with political experience? They split about evenly between first-term senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.
Other highlights from the exit polls:
PORTRAIT OF A TRUMP VOTER
Nine in 10 of Trump's voters are looking for an outsider. Half are angry with the government. Nearly as many want a candidate willing to "tell it like it is." Four in 10 said they were born again, cutting into Ted Cruz's efforts to claim the evangelical vote. Trump, who has professed mutual admiration with "poorly educated voters," was favored by half of voters without a college degree. His followers are nothing if not loyal: Six in 10 of his voters made up their minds more than a month ago.
PORTRAIT OF CLINTON VOTER
More than 90 percent of Clinton's voters want an insider, and nearly half 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, 60 percent of her backers made up their mind more than a month ago. 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 8 in 10 Republican primary voters had negative thoughts toward Washington. Democrats were not quite as critical: 60 percent 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 just over half of Republicans in Texas. In both states, Cruz was backed by at least 4 in 10 of them.
Rubio did well with voters for whom electability is important. But, unfortunately for him, Republicans just weren't that into electability. Less than 15 percent of voters singled that out as an important candidate quality. He also did well with voters looking for experience. That mattered to about 4 in 10 GOP voters. Late-deciders were a bright spot for him: Rubio was supported by about a third of voters 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 just about half of voters in Alabama and Georgia, 3 in 10 in Tennessee and about a quarter of Virginia and Arkansas.
Clinton made inroads on Super Tuesday with young-ish (30-44) voters, who divided their votes about evenly between the two Democratic candidates. 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.
Democrats in 8 of 9 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 about 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.
The outlier: Vermont, Sanders' home state. About half of Democratic voters there 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 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.
Hispanics made up less than 15 percent of Democratic voters on Tuesday. In Texas, though, Hispanics were nearly 3 in 10 voters and two-thirds voted for Clinton.
In the Texas Republican primary, 10 percent of voters were Hispanic. They divided their support closely among home state victor Cruz, Rubio and Trump.
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 806 to 1,491 Democratic primary voters and 536 to 1,821 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.
-- Associated Press