Mini Super Tuesday Republican Exit Poll Analysis

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. PlayGetty Images|EPA
WATCH 2016 Presidential Race: Delegate Count

Who turned out in the Mini Super Tuesday GOP primaries and what motivated their votes?

Republicans are voted in five primaries: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. The Northern Mariana Islands also held its Republican caucuses Tuesday.

ABC News projected Donald Trump will win the Northern Mariana Islands Republican caucuses.

ABC News projects that Donald Trump will win the Florida Republican primary, based on analysis of the vote.

ABC News projects that John Kasich will win the Ohio Republican primary, based on analysis of the vote.

ABC News projects that Donald Trump will win the Illinois Republican primary, based on analysis of the vote.

ABC News projects that Donald Trump will win the North Carolina Republican primary, based on analysis of the vote.

Here are some of our observations of exit poll results from primary states that voted Tuesday. This latest update is based on preliminary exit poll results.

Donald Trump’s had remarkable success on his signature issues in primaries to date, as well as showing substantial weakness among GOP voters who don’t support him. Our first look at preliminary exit poll results break apart some of those results in the five states holding primaries today.


In another sign of anti-Trump sentiment among some Republicans, across today’s five primaries, just more than half say they’d be satisfied with Trump as the nominee against Hillary Clinton, but about four in 10 say they’d seriously consider a third-party candidate.

Notably, six in 10 non-Trump supporters say they would seriously consider a third party if he became the GOP’s nominee.

General election vote

A question new to the exit polls this year directly measures intent to vote for Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or John Kasich in the general election. Across the five states voting today, in preliminary exit poll results, slightly more than half of GOP primary voters say they’d definitely vote for Trump; two in 10 say they’d “probably” support him – and about a quarter of primary voters within his own party say they would not vote for him.

Two-ways: Some of the exit polls today include head-to-head matchups of Trump-Rubio (in FL, NC, OH), where Trump’s ahead him in every one of these, including Rubio’s home state; Trump-Cruz (in MO, NC, OH), where it’s Trump in Ohio and Cruz in Missouri and North Carolina; or Trump-Kasich (in MO, OH), where Trump is favored in Missouri, and Kasich in Ohio. (Note, here as elsewhere, that preliminary exit poll results can change as additional data come in – so check back for updates.)

In Ohio, notably, the two-way matchup shows a substantial advantage for Kasich vs. Trump – nearly six in 10 vs. four in 10. That said, it’s not in fact, a two-way race.

An additional point is that uniting the GOP is not a Trump-only problem. Underscoring the party’s fragmentation, in states where it the question asked today, about as many say they would not vote for Cruz (23%), Rubio (25%, asked in three states) or Kasich (26%, asked in just two states) as say that about Trump (27%), in preliminary exit poll results.


Ratings as “honest and trustworthy” have been a challenge for Trump. It’s only been asked previously in Michigan and Mississippi, but there, just fewer than half, 48 percent, called Trump honest, vs. 52 percent for Rubio and 58 percent for Cruz. (Even in Mississippi, which Trump won in a romp, just 52 percent saw him as honest, vs. 61 percent for Cruz.)

In preliminary results today, there’s no state today where a majority of voters sees Trump as honest, including in the critical prize of Ohio. That said, neither Cruz nor Rubio are especially strong on this measure in many states, either. By contrast, it’s a strong suit for Kasich today – two-thirds in Missouri and three-quarters in Illinois say he’s trustworthy.


Across all five primaries today, a little more than half of voters are looking for an outsider rather than someone with political experience, including in Ohio and Florida. Outsider voters have ranged from a low of 43 percent (in Texas) to a high of 60 percent (in Mississippi) in previous contests this year, averaging 49 percent – and Trump’s won 62 percent of their votes.

We also can look at the “would not support as the nominee” number those who didn’t vote for a given candidate today. In this, Trump appears more of a turn-off. Among GOP voters who didn’t support him today, 44 percent (in preliminary results) also say they wouldn’t support him as the nominee in November. It’s three in 10 in similar comparisons for the other candidates.


Again across all five states voting today, two-thirds favor a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, high across the states, and peaking at three-quarters in Missouri. Looking at two states considered key, support for a Muslim ban is about two-thirds in Ohio and Florida, alike. It’s averaged a similar 68 percent across previous contests this year – of whom 43 percent have been Trump supporters, vs. 30 percent for his nearest competitor, Ted Cruz.


In the five states voting today, four in 10 Republican primary voters overall support deporting undocumented immigrants rather than offering them a chance to apply for legal status – including four in 10 in Ohio and about a third in Florida, compared with highs of more than four in 10 in Illinois and Missouri.

Another important Trump group, deportation supporters have averaged 42 percent in past races, and he’s won 45 percent of their votes, 12 percentage points ahead of Cruz in that group. In the states where it’s been asked previously, deportation supporters have ranged from 36 percent in Virginia (where Trump narrowly beat Marco Rubio) to 51 percent in Mississippi (where Trump won the state by a dozen points overall against second-place Cruz).


As has been the case all season, many GOP primary voters are angry with the way the federal government is working, averaging four in 10 across the five states voting today. The range is from a third in Illinois to more than four in 10 in Missouri, including four in 10 in Ohio.

Angry voters have accounted for 42 percent of GOP voters in previous contests where the question’s been asked in exit or entrance polls, with substantial variance – as high as 59 percent in the Nevada caucuses and as few as 32 percent in Michigan (still a substantial number). Trump’s won 42 percent of angry voters in previous races, vs. 32 percent for Cruz, just 13 percent for Rubio and fewer, 5 percent, for John Kasich.

Values voters

Across GOP contests to date, 35 percent of voters have said they’re looking chiefly for a candidate who “shares my values,” more than have picked any other attribute. They’ve been a strong group for Cruz – he’s won 42 percent in this group – and a dreadful one for Trump, with just 11 percent. (Trump’s come back, overwhelmingly, among voters looking for someone who “can bring needed change” or who “tells it like it is,” who’ve accounted for half of voters so far, while Rubio’s done his best among those most focused on who can win in November.) In preliminary results, nearly four in 10 voters in today’s states are stressing shared values, consistent across all five states.


Cruz won “very” conservative voters in previous races, a key source of his strength; they’ve accounted for 36 percent of voters overall, with 42 percent backing Cruz, to Trump’s 32 percent. (Trump’s won handily among those who are less-than very conservative.) In today’s preliminary data, strong conservatives account for a third of GOP voters overall, ranging from about three in 10 in Florida and Illinois, to more than four in 10 in Missouri.


Turnout among evangelical voters varies widely today. They account for two-thirds in North Carolina and six in 10 in Missouri, dropping to about half in Ohio and less than half in Florida and Illinois. Trump’s split evangelical voters with Cruz, on average, in previous contests. Non-evangelicals is a group in which Trump’s won 37 percent of the vote in previous contests to date, vs. 23 percent for Rubio, 19 percent for Cruz and 14 percent for Kasich.

Time of decision

Just more than four in 10 voters today made up their minds more than a month ago, a group Trump’s dominated to date, while more than half of voters decided within the last month, a great Kasich group in Michigan last week.


In another new question, two in 10 Republican voters across today’s states say they’re falling behind financially; and two-thirds say they’re very worried about the economy’s condition, about on par with previous states. Falling behind peaks in North Carolina; economic worry, Missouri.


Values: As in other states, more than a third of Ohio Republican voters were focused on a candidate who shares their values – but unusually, Kasich won them by 62-24 percent over his nearest competitor, Ted Cruz, with just 10 percent for Trump. It’s just the third time this primary season Kasich’s won shared-values voters (the others were in Massachusetts and Vermont, and by smaller margins), likely reflecting Ohio Republicans’ affinity for the state’s incumbent governor.

Trump did less well than usual in one of his customarily strong groups, those who want someone who’ll bring change, beating Kasich by 46-39 percent. Trump romped, as usual among those looking for a candidate who “tells it like it is.”

Time of decision: As in previous contests, Trump’s done notably well in Ohio among those who decided more than a month ago, winning half of them. Kasich fought back, though, by winning a majority of those who’ve decided in the last month, peaking at six in 10 among those who decided in the last few days (a group he also did well with last week in Michigan).

Economy: The economy was the top issue for more than a third of voters, and half of them went for Kasich, vs. 34 percent for Trump. Trump won more narrowly among the six in 10 who, in another question, said they were “very worried” about the direction of the economy; Kasich prevailed among those who were only somewhat worried. There’s a similar pattern among those angry at the federal government (majority Trump voters) vs. those who are just dissatisfied

Non-evangelicals: Kasich also benefited from a strong showing among non-evangelicals, who accounted for nearly half of Ohio GOP primary voters today – up from 37 percent in previous contests this year. The governor won 50 percent of non-evangelicals; he also ran competitively among non-evangelicals, with 40 percent, narrowly ahead of Trump.

Education: Kasich and Trump appealed to different portions of the electorate. Kasich won a majority of voters with a college degree, while Trump won among those without one.

Getting ahead: Kasich won 57 percent of voters who said they’re “getting ahead” financially, while Trump won 51 percent of those who are falling behind. Helpfully for Kasich, the former group outnumbered the latter – and he also won among the six in 10 who are holding steady financially.

Outsider: About half of Ohioans wanted a political outsider, a strong group for Trump here as elsewhere. But that left more than four in 10 who preferred someone with political experience, these voters coalesced around Kasich – he won a smashing 76 percent of their votes.

Immigration: Only four in 10 supported deporting undocumented immigrants, a big Trump group, but Kasich beat Trump by more than 2-1 among those who’d like to see a path to legal status.

North Carolina

Attributes: Cruz and Trump split the top two-cited candidate attributes, with more than half of shared-values voters going for Cruz, and half of those seeking “needed change” for Trump.

Time of decision: They also split early vs. late deciders. Trump won nearly half of those who decided more than a month ago – while Cruz got nearly four in 10 of those who decided in the past month.

Outsider/experience: As in other contests, just more than half of voters said they wanted an outsider vs. someone with political experience. Trump won two-thirds of these voters, which would be a record for him this cycle if it holds in later data. Cruz, though, won nearly half of those who prefer experience, as well as a quarter of the outsider crowd.

Ideology: While the share of very conservatives (37 percent) was on par with previous contests, Cruz won about half of them, vs. 34 percent for Trump; in previous contests, Cruz has won just four in 10. But Trump easily won among somewhat conservatives (43-30) and moderates and liberals (38-22).

The crowd: Trump continued to benefit from a divided field, as voters by a 7-point margin said they would prefer Cruz to Trump in a two-way match up.

Trump issues: Trump won half of voters who favor deportation, support banning Muslims and are angry about the government. Cruz leads among the opposite groups, but not as strongly, splitting the vote with other candidates.


Groups: Trump put in a highly consistent performance In Florida, winning across income, education, ideology, and partisan groups, among voters 30 and older and among evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike.

Trump issues: Trump was absolutely dominant on his signature issues: he won three-quarters of those preferring an outsider and six in 10 of who support deportation of undocumented immigrants, support temporarily banning Muslims or are angry at the federal government. (The size of these groups is similar to previous contests, the margins are just larger).

Rubio groups: Rubio beat Trump only among a few groups; the 9 percent of voters of Cuban descent, voter focused on experience vs. an outsider and those voters preferring someone who shares their values. Rubio was ran ahead of Trump in the Miami/Gold Coast region, but lost handily everywhere else.

Two-way: Trump’s strength here was not just due to divided opposition; in a two-way match-up against Rubio, Trump easily defeated Rubio, 53-42 percent.


Trump issues: As usual, Trump beat his opponents on his signature issues: deporting immigrants, banning Muslims, and his political outsider status. Half were looking for an outsider and Trump won 69 percent of their votes; his average across previous states among outsider voters is 62 percent. He also won 58 percent of those who favor deporting undocumented immigrants,13 points more than usual, tying his best to date.

Education: Trump did especially well with less-educated voters in Illinois, winning 55 percent of those who haven’t gone beyond high school, and 47 percent of all who lack a college degree, compared with just 24 percent of those with a postgraduate education.

Non-evangelicals: Fifty-six percent were not evangelicals, up from an average of 37 percent in primaries to date, and they were a boost to Trump: He won non-evangelicals by 41-27 percent vs. Cruz, compared with 39-36 percent, Cruz-Trump, among evangelical voters.

Ideology: Very conservative voters were again strong for Cruz, giving him just over half of their votes, but Trump ran well ahead of Cruz among somewhat conservatives and moderates.

Anger: Trump won are angry about how the government is working, with 53 percent support, although there were fewer of them than usual. (This group made up a third of voters, compared with more than four in 10 in previous contests.)

Vote for: Even with his win, the Illinois results showed challenges for Trump. A third of GOP voters in Illinois said they definitely wouldn’t support him were he the nominee – more than in any other state – and four in 10 said they’d seriously consider a third-party candidate in a Trump-Clinton race. Additionally, fewer than half – 46 percent – said they see Trump as honest and trustworthy.


Evangelicals: Evangelical Christians accounted for nearly six in 10 Missouri GOP primary voters, higher than the average across all states today, a majority of them voted for Cruz – better than in previous states, where they’d split between Cruz and Trump. This is only the second time this cycle that Cruz has won majority of evangelicals – Texas was the other.

Ideology: Cruz also won more than half of very conservative voters, who comprised more than four in 10 overall. While he’s usually run very competitively in this group, but this is also only the second time he’s won a majority of their support.

Shared values: A plurality of voters, four in 10, prioritized shared values over other candidate attributes, and six in ten of them voted for Cruz – better than his average in primaries to date, 42 percent. It’s among his best performances among values voters this cycle.

Muslim Ban: Three-quarters of Missouri Republican voters favored temporarily banning Muslims from the U.S., a signature Trump policy – but they essentially split evenly between Trump and Cruz, where in most previous states Trump won this group.

Outsider: Four in ten voters wanted a candidate with political experience, and Cruz won six in ten of them, his best showing among voters looking for a more establishment choice. Kasich and Rubio each won under two in ten of these voters. Those favoring an outsider, as usual, were big for Trump.

Anger: Trump ran slightly ahead of Cruz closely among the just over four in ten voters who said they were angry with the way the federal government works. Cruz, though, beat Trump among the half who said they were dissatisfied, rather than angry, though not with a majority.

Time of decision: Of the nearly four in ten voters who made their decision in the last week, Cruz won half of them. Trump picked up a quarter, with the rest dividing between Kasich and Rubio. Again, as in previous contests, early deciders favored trump.

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