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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Primary Exit Polls: An Overview

What do primary exit polls show? At AEI, Karlyn Bowman, Eleanor O'Neil,and Heather Sims report:
  • Ideology. In every state except Iowa where an entrance or exit poll was conducted, voters in GOP contests have been more conservative than they were in 2008. In every state, voters in Democratic contests have been more liberal than they were in 2008. In Indiana, 68% of voters in the Democratic contest described themselves as liberals. In 2008, liberals were 39% of voters in the state’s Democratic primary. This increased polarization among primary voters mirrors the milder shift we have seen in national polls on ideological identification.
  • Obama’s Legacy. In every state except Vermont and New Hampshire, a majority or plurality of voters in Democratic contests have said the next president should continue Obama’s policies. Still, in all of those contests, a chunk of Democratic voters wanted the next president’s policies to be more liberal. Bernie Sanders won that group in every state.
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  • The Rich and Wall Street. In 13 Democratic contests where the exit poll consortium asked the question, voters in Democratic contests said the economic system favors the rich. In New York and a few other states with more recent contests, voters in Democratic contests were asked about Wall Street. In New York’s Democratic contest, 63% said Wall Street hurts the US economy; only 30% said it helped. Eighty-seven percent there said they were worried about the direction of the US economy in the next few years. Voters in the New York GOP primary also agreed that Wall Street hurts the US economy, although more narrowly. Forty-eight percent gave that response.
  • A Temporary Ban on Muslims. On the GOP side, in 18 contests where the exit pollsters asked the question, between 63 and 78% favored a temporary ban on Muslims who are not US citizens from entering the country.
  • The GOP and Immigration. In only 2 of 20 states where voters in GOP contests were asked about illegal immigration did majorities favor deporting illegal immigrants working in the US. In 18 states, pluralities or majorities of voters in GOP contests said illegal immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.
  • Betrayal. In 15 of 16 states where exit pollsters asked the question, half or more of voters in GOP contests said they felt betrayed by GOP politicians, and many were angry.
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  • Trade. The exit pollsters asked about trade in seven Democratic contests. With the exception of Ohio, where a majority said trade takes away US jobs, voters in these Democratic contests were pretty evenly split on whether it takes away or creates US jobs. They asked about trade in six GOP contests. In every state, a majority of voters in GOP contests said it takes away jobs. In every case, more Republicans than Democrats said it takes away jobs. [emphasis added]