- In every state in which an entrance or exit poll was conducted, voters have selected the ability to defeat Obama as the candidate quality that mattered most.
- Romney has usually won the votes of those who checked “can defeat Obama” as the most important candidate quality for them. With the exception of Massachusetts, he has not won the votes of those who checked “true conservative.”
- Ideological, class, and religious divisions continue in the Republican electorate. Romney usually loses “very conservative” voters, but he does well with the “somewhat conservative” and “moderate/liberal” voters. He does better among suburban voters than rural ones and less religious than more religious voters. He has won at least a plurality of non-evangelical voters in every exit/entrance poll state except Georgia where Gingrich won them narrowly. Romney does well with college-educated and upper-income voters. He has almost always done better with college than non-college voters. With the exception of South Carolina and Georgia, Romney has won the votes of those with family incomes of $100,000 or more.
- Romney has done pretty well with Tea Party supporters, but not with strong Tea Party supporters.
- Tea Party supporters have backed the winner in every contest except Ohio, where Santorum edged out Romney by 1 percentage point. Santorum and Gingrich split their votes in Mississippi.
- In exit and entrance poll states, the Republican electorate has been about 90 percent white. In Florida, whites were 83 percent of voters.
- Abortion was cited as the top issue by more than 10 percent of voters in Michigan, Mississippi, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. In 15 of the 17 states for which we have exit/entrance poll data, “illegal immigration” was included as a category voters could check. In no state for which we have an entrance or exit poll was it the top issue. In no state did 15 percent of voters select it as the number-one issue. Only in Arizona did more than 10 percent of voters check it as their top issue. The economy has been the top issue everywhere.
The table also shows that Romney has carried the Catholic vote everywhere except Tennessee and South Carolina.