Preliminary Connecticut voters’ views in Tuesday’s elections, according to an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press:
GENDER GAP PERSISTS
Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy won a decisive victory in the U.S. Senate race as Republican Linda McMahon didn’t do much to dent the persistent preference of female voters for Democratic candidates. Murphy beat McMahon among women by a healthy 3 to 2 margin. McMahon won the male vote by a smaller percentage, but it didn’t matter because women made up over half the electorate. Murphy also won every age group of both sexes, except for 40- to 49-year-olds, where he and McMahon tied at 50.
About a third of voters said Murphy has high ethical standards, but only about 1 in 5 said the same about McMahon. That gap was despite McMahon’s persistent efforts to raise questions about late mortgage and rent payments for Murphy, and her allegation he got an unfair deal on a home equity loan. A good chunk of the electorate wasn’t impressed with either candidate, with about a quarter saying neither has high ethical standards. About 1 in 6 were impressed with both candidates’ ethics.
WOMEN CARRY OBAMA
Democratic President Barack Obama was carried to a comfortable win in Connecticut by a huge preference for him among female voters, 6 of 10 of whom chose him. The female preference for Obama was amplified by the fact that women made up the majority of the electorate. It all helped Obama easily overcome strong support from men for Republican rival Mitt Romney, who won just over half of the male vote.
WRESTLING WITH THE PAST
It didn’t come up much during the campaign, but it appears most voters aren’t that concerned about McMahon’s work as chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, now called WWE. Six in 10 voters said it didn’t affect their vote. The last time McMahon ran for Senate in 2010, about 5 of 10 voters said the job didn’t affect their vote. Despite the change, the WWE job doesn’t appear to be a plus for McMahon. Three in 10 voters say it made them less likely to vote for her, while less than 1 in 10 said it made them more likely to favor McMahon.
HEADED FOR BRIGHTER DAYS?
Nearly three-quarters of the voters polled described the economy as not so good or poor. But about 4 out of 10 believe it’s getting better, compared to about 3 in 10 who say it’s getting worse. And those optimistic voters overwhelmingly chose Obama. When voters were asked about their personal situations, only a quarter think they are better off now than they were four years ago. The rest were evenly divided about whether things are worse for them, or about the same.
OBAMA SHRUGS OFF INDEPENDENT VOTE
Independents made up a third of Connecticut’s electorate, and Romney won the majority of their vote. But Obama was able to shrug that off with overwhelming support from members of his party, who accounted for 4 in 10 voters. Romney’s Republicans made up under a third of the electorate.
STAYING IN TOUCH
Connecticut voters chose Obama when asked which of the presidential candidates is better in touch with people like them. They also picked Obama when asked whether he or Romney would better handle the economy.
Voters considered unemployment the biggest economic problem by far, with just under half saying it was their top concern. And a majority of those voters favored Obama, though the jobless rate has been persistently high during his term. Taxes were next, but well behind unemployment, with roughly 1 in 5 saying it was their top concern and a clear majority of them favoring Romney. Rising prices were chosen the next biggest worry, and more of those voters trusted Obama to tackle that issue. The housing market was not an issue for most, with less than 1 in 10 picking that as the problem that matters most.
The preliminary exit poll of 1,901 Connecticut voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research in a random sample of 30 precincts statewide. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.