Politics and Public Opinion

Analyzing the Florida exit poll results

Mitt Romney nuked Newt in Florida, winning most key groups and most issues. But here are a few more data points from the race that you might have missed:

*Very conservative voters were a third of the Republican primary electorate. They voted 41 percent for Gingrich and 30 percent for Romney. “Somewhat conservatives” were a slightly larger share, and they voted decisively for Romney, 52 to 32 percent. Newt also won those who strongly supported the Tea Party, 35 percent of voters in the GOP primary. Newt won those who said the most important candidate quality was being a “true conservative.” They were 14 percent of GOP voters, and Newt won them by 44 to 11 percent.

* White born-again/evangelical Christians made up 40 percent of the electorate yesterday. They split fairly evenly between Gingrich and Romney—38 and 36 percent, respectively.

* Overall, 15 percent of GOP primary voters said Gingrich’s positions were too conservative and 24 percent not conservative enough. Those responses for Romney were 7 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

*A sweep: Romney won all income levels, education groups, age groups, marrieds and unmarrieds, and men and women.

* The top issue in Florida, as elsewhere, was the economy (62 percent) followed by the budget deficit (23 percent), abortion (7 percent), and illegal immigration (3 percent).

*On immigration, there appears to be a big change in GOP voter attitudes. Thirty-eight percent of GOP primary voters checked a box yesterday saying illegal immigrants working in the United States should be allowed to apply for citizenship, and 27 percent would allow them to stay as temporary workers. In the 2008 Republican primary, 29 percent of voters said illegal immigrants should be allowed a path to citizenship, 29 percent allowed to say as temporary workers. Still, only 3 percent of 2012 Florida Republican primary voters said illegal immigration was the most important issue to them.

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