Key factors in Tuesday's Democratic primaries include minority turnout and vote. Within it, the preferences of young minority voters; economic insecurity; and basic views of the candidates’ attributes and policies. Among those worth watching tonight:
One question to watch is whether voters want the next president to continue Barack Obama’s policies or to pursue more liberal ones. Hillary Clinton’s won the former group in previous states by 3-1, while Bernie Sanders has won by 2-1 among the latter. In preliminary results today, more than half overall want to continue Obama’s policies – but not a majority in Ohio.
Age, race and partisanship have been important in the Democratic contests to date, with Sanders running strongly among young voters and independents, Clinton among minorities and mainline Democrats. Further, part of Sanders’ performance in Michigan came on the basis of his comparatively strong showing among young black voters – a group to watch tonight.
Sanders took advantage of economic worries in his surprise victory in Michigan last week. Among other results, 57 percent of Democratic voters said free trade takes more jobs than it creates, and Sanders won them over Clinton by 15 percentage points, 56-41 percent. Today, in preliminary exit poll results, a similar number in Ohio likewise see free trade as a negative, vs. fewer than half in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. Worth keeping an eye on as the night unfolds is how these anti-free-traders vote, especially in Ohio.
Sanders, relatedly, has sought to label Clinton as too pro-business, and this helped him in Michigan. But, in preliminary exit poll results today, similar numbers of Democrats see Clinton as too pro-business as see Sanders as too anti-business, including in the battleground state of Ohio.
Sanders also was helped in Michigan by the fact that six in 10 voters picked either honesty or empathy as the most important candidates attributes in their vote, higher than the average so far. In today’s states, more than half are focused on those traits, peaking at six in 10 in Illinois and Missouri and bottoming out at fewer than half in Florida. (Clinton, for her part, has dominated in previous contests among those focused on experience or electability.)
Another new item cuts to electability: In preliminary results, two-thirds of voters across today’s five primaries give Hillary Clinton a better chance of defeating Donald Trump in November if he were the nominee. Only three in 10 say the same of Sanders.
But there are some differences in this result across primaries: A high of three-quarters in Florida pick Clinton as better able to beat Trump, while this shifts down to about six in 10 in Ohio and Missouri. But, in all cases today, voters thought Clinton had a better chance than Sanders.
That said, electability has not been a key voter concern, and Clinton’s been vulnerable on the question of honesty and trustworthiness. Across today’s states, only six in 10 Democratic voters in preliminary exit poll results describe Clinton as honest and trustworthy, while eight in 10 say that about Sanders. Sanders is considered more honest in all five states today, including by a wide margin in Missouri, but also by double-digits in Ohio.
Views on this attribute differed sharply last week: In Michigan, where Sanders pulled off an upset win, 81 percent saw him as honest and trustworthy, while just 56 percent said the same about Clinton. The tables were turned – albeit not so sharply – in Mississippi.
Another question is whether Clinton has gained any ground by pushing back against the plausibility of Sanders’ policy proposals, measured in a set of new questions asking whether each candidate’s policies are realistic. To some extent it appears she has. Across states today, three-quarters say Clinton’s policies are realistic, fewer, just more than half, say the same about Sanders’. There’s a range across states, though, in ratings of Sanders’ policies, with the biggest gaps in Clinton’s favor in Florida and North Carolina and the smaller ones in Illinois and Missouri, with Ohio in the middle.
In contrast to the fractured GOP contest, majorities of Democrats today would be satisfied if either Clinton or Sanders was the eventual nominee, with little difference between them (three-quarters vs. seven in 10). That’s a little closer than what we’ve seen in previous contests, where 77 percent said they’d be satisfied with Clinton, 65 percent with Sanders. Sanders is pretty close in every state but Florida, and he even beats her (slightly) on this in Missouri and Illinois.
Democrats are voting in five primaries: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.
As has been true all primary season, demographics played a big role in the Democratic primary Ohio today:
Race. Black voters in Ohio backed Clinton over Sanders by more than 2-1, 68-30 percent – but that was well down from her 5-1 advantage among blacks in previous contests to date. What put Ohio away for Clinton was the fact that she also, narrowly, won whites, 51-48 percent. In the Michigan upset last week, for comparison, Sanders won whites by 56-42 percent.
Age. Two-thirds of voters 45 and older backed Clinton. Sanders, typically, had an even wider lead among younger voters. His challenge was that they made up less of the electorate; 62 percent were 45 and older.
Obama. As usual this year, Clinton benefited from Obama’s coattails – she outperformed Sanders by 3-1 among those who want Obama’s policies continued, 73-26 percent. The number favoring Obama’s approach, 49 percent, came near its level in past Democratic contests this year, 53 percent.
Trade/business. Unlike Michigan, Clinton won the trade debate in Ohio, albeit narrowly. More than half of voters said trade with other countries takes away jobs in the United States; they voted 53-46 percent for Clinton. Sanders, by contrast, won anti-traders in his Michigan upset, 56-41 percent. Moreover, while three in 10 said Clinton is too pro-business (a pro-Sanders group), about the same number saw Sanders as too anti-business, and they broke for Clinton.
Gender. Clinton won women by 61-38 percent, roughly typical for the year. And they accounted for 57 percent of voters.
Ideology. Six in 10 voters in Ohio described themselves as liberals, up from just 40 percent in 2008, continuing a trend seen all season. Sanders won “very” liberal voters, but he and Clinton were close among “somewhat” liberals, and Clinton won strongly among moderates, 61-37 percent.
Electability/attributes. Clinton did better in the expectations game. More than six in 10 in Ohio said she has the best chance of beating Trump in the general election,and she won the support of more than eight in 10 of those who were most focused on electability and experience. Those focused instead on honesty and empathy backed Sanders, but by a narrower margin, by 2-1.
Realistic? Sanders, for his part, was hurt by the perception that his policies are not realistic: Four in 10 voters said so, vs. two in 10 who said the same of Clintons’.
Race. Clinton won eight in 10 blacks in North Carolina; they accounted for three in 10 Democratic primary voters.
Gender. She led among women, with six in 10 of their votes; they’re the majority of today’s voters in North Carolina. Clinton was boosted in particular by black women, among whom she won nearly eight in 10, while she spilt the voter with Sanders white women.
Non-outsider. More than eight in 10 North Carolina Democratic primary voters said they wanted someone with political experience as opposed to an outsider, and Clinton won six in 10 of them.
Obama. As elsewhere, Clinton won the more than half of voters who wanted to continue Barack Obama’s polices, taking three-quarters of this group.
Race. Nonwhites accounted for a bare majority of Florida Democratic primary voters, up 17 percentage points from 2008. Clinton won nearly 8 in 10 blacks, more than a quarter of the electorate, and seven in 10 Hispanic voters, similar to her showing in this group in Texas.
Age. A quarter of Florida Democratic primary voters were seniors, a strong group for Clinton; she won nearly three-quarters of their votes in preliminary exit poll results. Under 30’s went for Sanders in nearly the same numbers but they made up just 10 percent of the electorate, fewer than in previous states.
Gender. Women accounted for nearly 6 in 10 voters in Florida, and they went for Clinton 2-1.
Ideology. As elsewhere, turnout among liberals was at record high - 57 percent of voters. More than half of liberals backed Clinton over Sanders.
Electability and realistic. Three-quarters felt she would have a better chance of defeating Donald Trump in November and thought her policies were realistic, as opposed to an even split on Sanders’ policies.
Attributes. While voters split on which was more important -- experience and electability or honesty and empathy, Clinton won her usual strong suits, experience and electability, with nearly 9 in 10 votes; Sanders won his, honesty and empathy, by six in 10.
Trade/business. As in Michigan, Sanders won nearly six 6 in 10 voters in Illinois who said free trade takes away jobs – and they accounted for nearly half of voters. He also narrowly beat Clinton among those “very” worried about the economy. Both contrast with Ohio, these groups were more evenly divided.
Race. White voters, especially men, backed Sanders by double-digit margins, while Clinton won more than six in 10 nonwhites – and they made up about 40 percent of the electorate. (That matches the average in primaries so far, but not in the Midwest; it compares with a quarter in Ohio tonight and 30 percent in Michigan last week.)
Age. Sanders did especially well among voters under 45, receiving seven in 10 of their votes. In primaries to date, by contrast, just more than half of under 45s have backed him.
Issues. Four in 10 Illinois voters said the economy was the top issue in their vote. Economy voters have usually been a strong group for Clinton, but in Illinois they divided evenly. The same was true of voters most concerned with healthcare – usually a Clinton group, in Illinois they split evenly.
Party. Three-quarters of Illinois Democratic voters were mainline Democrats, normally a strong pro-Clinton group. But in Illinois, she won fewer than six in 10 of them. That compares to nearly 70 percent support in primaries to date. Sanders, by contrast, won especially strongly among independents.
Satisfaction. Eight in 10 in Illinois said they'd be satisfied with a Sanders nomination - that’s the highest satisfaction in primaries to date. Still, nearly as many said they’d be satisfied with Clinton, as well.
Obama. Nearly six in 10 voters in Illinois wanted Obama’s policies to be continued. While they broke for Clinton, they did so less strongly than in most other primaries to date.
Race. Clinton’s strength among blacks was weaker in Missouri, both in numbers and in margin, than in most other states. About two in 10 Democratic primary voters in the state were black, and just under seven in 10 of them supported her – similar to her results among blacks in Ohio and Illinois. Repeating a phenomenon we saw in Ohio – and see in Illinois as well – Clintons’ comparative weakness among blacks has to do with age. Among blacks age 45 and older, 8 in 10 supported Clinton; but Missouri blacks younger than 45 split evenly between Clinton and Sanders.
Gender, age. Clinton’s winning women by a much narrower majority than usual for her in Missouri. Sanders’ is thumping, as usual, among young adults. Clinton’s 2-1 advantage among seniors is down from her 3-1 in this group in previous contests to date.
Electability. Fifty-seven percent called Clinton the better candidate to beat Donald Trump in the general election, but the four in 10 who picked Sanders on electability was the most across all states voting today.
Satisfaction. Satisfaction with the prospect of Sanders as the nominee was notably high here. Eight in 10 voters say they’d be satisfied if he were the party’s candidate for November, while seven in 10 would be satisfied with Clinton. That’s essentially flipped from the average in previous contests in which this question was asked, with 77 percent satisfied with Clinton, and 65 percent satisfied with Sanders.