Exit poll results from the New Hampshire primary showed deep discontent with the Republican Party and the federal government
The candidate who railed hardest on those topics, Donald Trump, won with multiple groups of voters Tuesday night
Exit poll results from the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night showed deep discontent with the Republican Party and the federal government, and the candidate who railed hardest on those topics, Donald Trump, won with multiple groups of voters.
Trump won New Hampshire’s primary by carrying a range of demographic and ideological groups with more than 30% of the vote. He topped the rest of the field among both men and women, voters under age 64, voters without a college degree, and those who have a college degree but no postgraduate study.
He won among conservatives and moderates, first-time voters and those who’ve voted before and registered Republicans and those who are undeclared.
Trump won 6-in-10 voters who said they were looking for an outside candidate.
But New Hampshire also exposed a weakness for Trump: late-deciding voters, who made up almost half the Republican vote, broke evenly between Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Kasich won the battle for second place with the support of late-deciders and voters who said they wanted a candidate with experience.
Unhappy Republican voters
The results found a Republican race centered on discontent with both the federal government and the Republican Party, where voters’ preferences remained unsettled until the final days of the contest.
Nearly half of GOP voters interviewed as they left their polling places around New Hampshire Tuesday said they didn’t make a final decision about whom to support until the last few days, and about two-thirds said recent debates were important to their choice.
Republican voters expressed deep worries about both the economy (three-quarters were very worried) and the threat of terrorism (6-in-10 very worried). About 9-in-10 said they were dissatisfied with the federal government, including about 4-in-10 who were angry about the way it was working. And for many, the dissatisfaction extends to the GOP itself. Half said they felt betrayed by politicians from the Republican Party, and about the same share said they wanted the next president to be from outside the political establishment.
The gender gap
The results revealed a generational divide among women who voted Democrat.
Women under 45 overwhelmingly picked Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls, with women under 30 backing the Vermont senator by an almost 4-1 margin. But men under 30 favored Sanders even more, with a little more than 10% backing Clinton. But women over 65 selected Clinton by nearly a 2-1 margin.
Sanders supporters still like Clinton
About 8-in-10 say that Sanders shares their values, two-thirds say his positions on issues are about right and 8-in-10 would be satisfied if he were the nominee. Additionally, 40% say they’d like the next president to pursue more liberal policies than Obama, and Sanders carries more than 80% of their votes.
But it’s not an anti-Clinton electorate: 6-in-10 would be satisfied if Clinton won the nomination and about 55% say her positions on the issues are about right, with 6-in-10 saying she shares their values.
And about half of voters say they trust both candidates on a range of major issues, including health care, handling an international crisis and gun policy, but Sanders has an edge on handling the economy and income inequality.
But Clinton’s big challenge remains that a majority doubt that she is honest and trustworthy.
Democrats happier than Republicans, but concerns remain
Though Democrats voting on Tuesday were less apt to say they felt betrayed by their party or to express anger with the federal government, about three-quarters said they were worried about the economy. About 4-in-10 said they thought life for the next generation of Americans would be worse than life today, and 9-in-10 said they thought the nation’s economy favored the wealthy.
Still, Democrats who went to the polls Tuesday – to vote in a race featuring two seasoned politicians – were more apt than Republicans to say they wanted the next president to have experience in politics, only about one-quarter said they preferred a president from outside the political establishment.
Only about one-quarter of Democrats said they made up their minds in the final days of the contest, well below the share of Republicans deciding late.
Just one-quarter of voters in the GOP primary Tuesday say they are born-again or evangelical Christians, well below the majority of Iowa caucusgoers who said they were born-again or evangelical. Likewise, New Hampshire GOP voters were less likely to be deeply conservative than were the Iowa caucusgoers: About one-quarter describe themselves as “very conservative” among Tuesday’s voters.
Voters in both the Democratic and Republican contests were more apt to say the candidates’ positions on the issues were central to their vote than to say their choice rested on personal or leadership qualities.
Economic issues topped the list of issues in both contests. For the Democrats, the economy and jobs ran evenly with income inequality, with about one-third citing each as a top issue, while for Republicans, 3-in-10 cited the economy, and about one-quarter each government spending or terrorism.
New Hampshire voters who are registered to vote without a party affiliation can choose whether to participate in the Democratic election or the Republican one. These undeclared voters made up about one-third of those casting ballots in the Republican race, and about 4-in-10 on the Democratic side.
On both sides, however, smaller shares report participating in a primary for the first time than did so in Iowa’s caucuses.
The New Hampshire exit polls were conducted at 44 precincts around the state among 1,257 Republican voters and 1,434 Democratic voters. The margin of sampling error on each side is plus or minus 4 percentage points.