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N.H. Primary Electorate Less Republican, More Concerned About Economy N.H. Primary Electorate Less Republican, More Concerned About Economy

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CAMPAIGN 2012

N.H. Primary Electorate Less Republican, More Concerned About Economy

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Supporters of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, react as it was declared that he was the winner of the New Hampshire Primary Election at his reception in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

 

Tuesday's New Hampshire GOP primary electorate was slightly older, less Republican, and far more focused on economic issues than the 2008 electorate that chose Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney four years ago. Tuesday's voters also differed from the Iowa caucus-goers last week that propelled long-shot former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., into a virtual tie with Romney for the most votes.

 

Some key points from the exit polls (as of 9 p.m.):

-- The electorate was slightly older than in 2008. Voters age 65 and older made up 21 percent of the electorate, compared to 15 percent in 2008. The percentage of voters 30 or younger slid from 14 percent in 2008 to 12 percent, slightly higher than most preprimary surveys indicated.

-- There were more independents. Just 53 percent of voters said they were registered Republicans; 45 percent identified themselves registered independents. In 2008, 61 percent of GOP primary voters said they were registered as Republicans.

 

-- Income breakdowns were equal: 63 percent of voters make less than $100,000 a year, while 37 percent make $100,000 or more. New Hampshire Republicans are more affluent than their Iowa counterparts -- just 28 percent of caucus-goers made $100,000 or more; Romney won that group by 12 percentage points in the Hawkeye State.

-- New Hampshire Republicans are less enthusiastic about the tea party movement than were Iowa caucus-goers. Just 51 percent said they supported the tea party movement, compared to 64 percent of Iowa caucus-goers. But Romney also ran much better among New Hampshire's tea party supporters than he did among Iowa's.

-- New Hampshire Republicans are far less conservative than Iowa's caucus-goers. Just 53 percent describe themselves as conservative, while 47 percent said they were moderate or liberal. In Iowa, 83 percent said they were conservative with just 17 percent calling themselves moderate or liberal.

-- Evangelical Christians were less influential. Only 22 percent identified as born-again or evangelical Christians. Evangelicals made up a 57-percent majority of Iowa caucus-goers on Jan. 3.

 

-- The majority, 61 percent, identified the economy as the most important issue with another 24 percent choosing the federal budget deficit. In 2008, only 31 percent chose the economy, with the balance of voters split among issues such as the war in Iraq, terrorism, and illegal immigration.

-- Almost all, 94 percent, are worried about the economy. In 2008, 80 percent were worried about the economy; 20 percent were not.

-- New Hampshire used to be McCain country: He won the Granite State primary in 2000 and 2008. Now, only 58 percent of the GOP primary voters have a favorable opinion of the two-time candidate, who campaigned for Romney in the state. In 2008, fully three-quarters had a favorable opinion of McCain, who captured 38 percent of the vote.

The exit polls were conducted Tuesday by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, surveying 2,760 Republican primary voters.

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