Super Tuesday exit polls may hold clues to November contest
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore were carried to victory by core party constituencies Tuesday night, according to CNN exit polls of voters.
On a night where millions of voters flocked to the polls in an unprecedented turnout, these exit poll results may hold important clues to predicting the outcome of what looks like will be a November match up between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. Polls also indicate that the insurgent message of rival candidates John McCain and Bill Bradley failed to catch on with voters, despite their best efforts.
On the Republican side, Bush prevailed over Arizona Sen. John McCain in the big three states -- California, New York, and Ohio -- as well as Georgia, Maryland, Maine and Missouri with help from core Republican voters as well as those who became disillusioned with McCain's attack on conservative Christian leaders.
In those states, Bush easily won across all demographics: men and women, the young and old, social conservatives, educated voters and in some cases even veterans and moderates chose the Texas governor over McCain.
In delegate-rich California, Hispanics voted for Bush over McCain 52 percent to 34 percent. And among Asians, 66 percent chose Bush and 44 percent went for McCain.
And in a contest where religion became a hot-button issue, Christian conservatives -- even Catholics, a group courted by McCain -- flocked to the Texas governor's banner in some cases by a ratio of more than 2-to-1.
Among Ohio voters who said that McCain's view of the religious right influenced their vote, 80 percent supported Bush. That pattern was repeated in California, where 79 percent of those voters chose Bush. In New York, that figure fell to 73 percent, indicating that McCain did a disservice to his campaign by attacking the religious right.
The GOP primary race was marred by a slew of negative attacks by both candidates. As would be expected, among voters who said Bush attacked unfairly, 77 percent supported McCain. That figure was reversed among voters who said McCain was the aggressor with 74 percent going for Bush.
Endorsements mattered to Republicans on Super Tuesday. In New York, 10 percent of voters polled said Gov. George Pataki's endorsement of Bush was very important to them, and they supported the Texas governor by a ratio of 3-to-1.
Even in the states he lost, McCain tended to capture the crossover vote. In Georgia, for example, 55 percent of Democrats voting in the GOP primary voted for the Arizona senator. But among independents, the vote was 52 percent for Bush and 41 percent for McCain.
The Arizona senator has claimed victory in Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts -- not quite the New England sweep he was seeking.
McCain posted a strong finish in Massachusetts, beating Bush among men and women, all age groups, as well as income and education levels. And among voters who said they were members of the religious right, McCain nearly tied Bush at 45 percent to 44 percent.
Those same exit poll results were reflected in the Arizona senator's wins in Vermont and Rhode Island.
In Connecticut, only registered party members could vote, and McCain edged out Bush in that state. But he tied Bush among key constituencies -- such as veterans -- at 48 percent. Women chose McCain over Bush, at 50 percent to 45 percent, but the two tied among men at 47 percent.
Nationwide, 55 percent of first-time voters in a Republican primary went for McCain, and Bush now has to go after that group is he is to prevail against Gore in November.
Exit polls reflect Gore's Super Tuesday sweep
Vice President Al Gore swept the Super Tuesday primaries against former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley and exit polls explain why: he captured key Democratic constituencies.
In a poll of 10,486 voters nationwide, 67 percent of men and 73 percent of women participating in Tuesday's contests went for Gore.
Voters of all ages overwhelmingly went for Gore. Among ethnic and racial groups, 83 percent of African-Americans -- a group heavily courted by Bradley -- chose Gore, as did 88 percent of hispanics and 78 percent of Asians.
Independent voters also supported the vice president over Bradley, 54 percent to 43 percent. That pattern was repeated among voters characterizing themselves as liberal, moderate and even conservative. And among core Democratic constituencies, such as union households, Gore again overwhelmed Bradley.
The nation's strong economy also aided the vice president, as 58 percent of voters polled said their family's financial situation has improved, and a whopping 72 percent of them chose Gore. Even the 9 percent of voters who said they were worse off flocked to the vice president -- 63 percent threw their support behind the vice president.