Exit poll: Independents propel Sanders in West Virginia

AP News
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Posted: May 10, 2016 10:53 PM
Exit poll: Independents propel Sanders in West Virginia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Independents and younger voters propelled Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to a victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia Democratic primary Tuesday night.

In a state where a significant portion of Democratic primary voters said they were not Democrats, Sanders was supported by nearly 6 in 10 self-described independents.

On the GOP side, presumptive nominee Donald Trump steamrolled through the West Virginia and Nebraska primaries, victories boosted by majorities of Republican voters who say they're optimistic or excited about the possibility of a Trump presidency.

In Nebraska's Republican primary, the overwhelmingly majority say their party is divided and a significant portion of them don't see that as changing by November.

Those are among the findings from exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

Other highlights from the exit polls:

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TRUMP'S BASE

Most West Virginia Republicans feel good about the possibility of a Trump presidency.

More than 7 in 10 say they're excited or optimistic about what he would do, and about 8 in 10 West Virginia Republicans say they would vote for Trump in a general election matchup against Clinton.

About 6 in 10 GOP voters in the state say it's very likely the billionaire would beat Clinton in West Virginia in the general election. About a quarter say it's somewhat likely.

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DEMOCRATS IN NAME ONLY

A third of West Virginia Democratic primary voters say they identify as independents, and nearly 6 in 10 of those voters supported Sanders.

Overall, less than 6 in 10 of those voting in that state's Democratic primary say they're Democrats.

The exit polls also illuminated another bloc of voters: those who voted for Sanders on Tuesday but would abandon him if he faced Trump in November.

About a third of West Virginia Democratic primary voters would choose Trump in general election matchups with either Sanders or Clinton.

Of those who would choose Trump in the general election, the majority voted for Sanders on Tuesday.

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ECONOMIC WORRIES

In West Virginia, voters from both parties in Tuesday's presidential primary are united on two things: They see the economy as the top issue facing the country, and they think trade is taking American jobs.

More than half of voters in both West Virginia primaries say the economy is the top issue facing the country. About 6 in 10 voters in the Democratic primary say they're very worried about the economy and 3 in 10 say they're somewhat worried.

About two-thirds of the state's Republican primary voters and more than half of Democratic primary voters say trade with other countries mostly takes jobs from American workers.

In Nebraska, half of Republican primary voters say trade takes jobs, while about a third say it creates them.

Just 3 in 10 Nebraska GOP voters say the economy is the top issue facing the country. Another 3 in 10 say government spending, 2 in 10 say terrorism and less than 2 in 10 say immigration.

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PARTY DIVIDE

Most West Virginia Republicans see their party as divided, but few think it will remain that way in November. Only 1 in 10 think their party is united now, but more than half think it will unite by November. More than 3 in 10 think it will remain divided.

In Nebraska, hardly any GOP primary voters think their party is united, and they're less optimistic than West Virginians about that changing.

More than 9 in 10 Nebraska Republican primary voters say their party is divided, and more than 4 in 10 say it will remain that way through the general election. Just under half of the state's GOP primary voters think their party will unite by November.

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The surveys were conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 25 randomly selected sites in West Virginia and 20 in Nebraska.

Preliminary results include interviews with 763 Democratic primary voters and 712 Republican primary voters in West Virginia, and with 1,079 Republican primary voters in Nebraska. The results among all those voting in each contest have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points in West Virginia and plus or minus 4 percentage points in Nebraska.

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Associated Press writer Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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Follow Chad Day and Tammy Webber on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/chadsday and http://twitter.com/twebber02