New York Times
By Thomas Kaplan and Dalia Sussman
February 2, 2016
Senator Ted Cruz won support among evangelicals, very conservative voters and those who were seeking a candidate who shares their values. Donald J. Trump did well among first-time caucusgoers and those who want the next president to be from outside the political establishment. Senator Marco Rubio found support among voters who said the economy was the most important issue and those who thought it was most important to have a candidate who could win in November.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton prevailed among women, older voters, political moderates and caucusgoers who prioritized having a candidate who can win in November.
Senator Bernie Sanders won the overwhelming support of younger voters, first-time caucusgoers and those who said what mattered most was having a candidate who is honest and trustworthy.
Those were among the more striking findings from polls of voters entering the caucuses across Iowa on Monday.
After months of campaigning, fierce debates and a blizzard of television commercials, the polls, conducted by Edison Research, showed how voters split among the presidential hopefuls when it finally came time to make a decision.
On the Republican side, 4 in 10 caucusgoers described themselves as very conservative, and they supported Mr. Cruz over Mr. Trump by a more than two-to-one ratio. Nearly two-thirds described themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, and they favored Mr. Cruz as well.
A plurality of Republican caucus voters, about 4 in 10, said a candidate sharing their values was the quality that mattered most in deciding whom to support. Of those voters, the breakdown was stark: 38 percent sided with Mr. Cruz, 21 percent supported Mr. Rubio and only 5 percent went with Mr. Trump.
Alternatively, for the 14 percent of voters who said it mattered to have a candidate who “tells it like it is,” two-thirds of them sided with Mr. Trump.
A billionaire real estate mogul, Mr. Trump satisfied the thirst of many voters for an outsider candidate. About half of voters said they wanted the next president to be from outside the political establishment, and of those voters, nearly half supported Mr. Trump.
Just over 1 in 10 voters named immigration as their most important issue, but Mr. Trump did well with those voters.
Mr. Rubio saw strength among college graduates, who favored him over the other candidates. About 1 in 5 voters said a candidate’s ability to win in November was the quality that mattered most, and they backed Mr. Rubio, who has emphasized his electability in November.
More than one-third of Republican caucusgoers said they decided whom to support more than a month ago, and they heavily backed Mr. Trump. The same number made up their minds in the last few days, and they broke for Mr. Rubio.
On the Democratic side, Mrs. Clinton, who served as secretary of state in President Obama’s administration, has presented herself as the best person to build on his agenda. The majority of Democratic caucus voters said the next president should generally continue President Obama’s policies, rather than change to more or less liberal policies.
Those voters who want to continue Mr. Obama’s policies favor Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Sanders by a large margin.
Mr. Sanders, for his part, received strong support from first-time caucusgoers, who accounted for more than 4 in 10 voters.
But first-time caucus voters made up a smaller share of the Democratic electorate than they did in 2008, when Mr. Obama, then a senator from Illinois, claimed victory, and Mrs. Clinton finished third. That year, 57 percent of Democratic caucusgoers were first-timers.
Mr. Sanders was backed by very liberal voters, and he was also widely supported by younger voters. But voters age 65 and older accounted for nearly 3 in 10 Democratic caucusgoers on Monday, up from 22 percent in 2008.
Democratic caucusgoers split on the issue they think is the most important facing the country. Three in 10 said health care, while one-third said the economy. Both of these groups went for Mrs. Clinton. Just over one in four voters viewed income inequality as the most important issue facing the country. They went strongly for Mr. Sanders, whose campaign has revolved in large part around that issue.
Nearly 3 in 10 voters said the quality that mattered most to them was having a candidate with the right experience, and they favored Mrs. Clinton by an enormous margin: Nearly 9 in 10 sided with her.
Two in 10 voters said it was most important that the candidate can win in November, and more than three-quarters sided with Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Sanders fared best on honesty and trustworthiness. For voters to whom that mattered more than other qualities, Mr. Sanders won the support of more than 8 in 10, while Mrs. Clinton was backed by only 1 in 10.
And for voters who said that caring about people like them was the quality that mattered most, about three-quarters sided with Mr. Sanders.
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