CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Results from an Associated Press exit poll of New Hampshire voters in Tuesday’s elections:
OBAMA'S WIN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Though Republicans had an edge in voter registration before Tuesday, slightly more voters said they think of themselves as Democrats compared to Republicans, with independents making up the largest share. Democratic President Barack Obama had a slight advantage among the more than four in 10 who called themselves independents, though his support among that group dropped from 2008. Obama was strong among liberals and self-described moderates, who made up four in 10 voters. Slightly more women voted than men, and they favored Obama. Young voters, under age 25, favored Obama by 2-1 over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and Obama won the backing of those who made less than $50,000. Voters whose annual family income totaled over $50,000 split between Obama and Romney.
New Hampshire voters are both greatly concerned and pessimistic about the U.S. economy. Six in 10 named the economy as the country’s top problem, far outpacing those who cited health care, the federal budget deficit or foreign policy. Economy voters were narrowly divided between Obama and Romney, while deficit voters broke for Romney and health care voters broke for Obama.
Roughly three-quarters of voters characterized the U.S. economy as not so good or poor, but they were split on a prognosis: about four in 10 said the economy is getting better, slightly more than said it is getting worse, and about a quarter said it was stagnant. The pessimists favored Romney, who also had a slight edge among those who said the economy is staying about the same, while those who are optimistic about the economy backed Obama by a wide margin.
While New Hampshire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, about four in 10 voters said unemployment was the biggest economic problem facing people like themselves. About a fifth of voters said their family’s financial situation is better today than four years ago. They overwhelmingly favored Obama, who also picked up about two-thirds of those who said their financial situation had stayed the same.
About three in 10 said choosing someone who shares their values was the most important quality in a presidential candidate, with a similar number saying a candidate’s vision for the future was key. Smaller percentages — about one in five — prioritized picking a strong leader or someone who cares about people like them. Obama was strongest among those who sought a caring candidate; Romney was strongest among those looking for leadership.
Voters were split on the 2010 federal health care law, with those who favor keeping it in place or expanding it about even with those who favor repealing all or some of it. Obama won those who want to keep it as is or expand it, along with more than a quarter of those who want to partially repeal it.
In her bid for governor, Democrat Maggie Hassan drew support from women, unmarried voters and those whose annual family income totaled less than $50,000. Nearly two-thirds of unmarried women backed Hassan, who also was slightly ahead among married women.
Independents were also key to Hassan’s win. While both she and Republican Ovide Lamontagne each captured more than 90 percent of their respective party bases, Hassan led among the four in 10 who consider themselves independents.
More than half of voters said government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, and they broke for Lamontagne. But a quarter of them backed Hassan, and her support was even greater among the 4 in 10 voters who believe government should do more to solve problems.
With its first-in-the-nation presidential primary, New Hampshire voters have been heavily exposed to the presidential campaigns for nearly two years. About one in 10 voters said they waited until the last few days to make up their minds, and about eight in 10 decided before October. The early deciders were more likely to be Obama supporters, while those who made up their minds in the final days were about evenly split between the two candidates.
The exit poll of 3,109 New Hampshire voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research in a random sample of 45 precincts statewide. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.