Parsing the Exit Polls in Nevada

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Sasha’s got the results and the analysis from Nevada. Let’s take a look at what the exit polls say about the demographics.

First, the Republican race, won by Mitt Romney (who was the only non-Paul candidate who took this state seriously). Mormons are about seven percent of the population in Nevada, but they were about 25 percent of Republican voters today. And 94 percent of Mormons went for Romney.

There were few independents in Nevada: 84 percent of exit poll respondents identified as Republicans; 14 percent identified as independents. Romney won amongst GOP voters and Ron Paul won big amongst indies. John McCain had no constituency.

Romney’s long term attention to the state mattered: 44 percent of voters said they made up their minds over a month ago. Also helping Romney was the fact that the two most important issues to voters were the economy (where Romney has private-sector experience) and illegal immigration (on which Romney has the stiffest plan).

Second, the Democratic race, won by Hillary Clinton. Hispanic voters (15 percent of the electorate) went 64-26 for Clinton. Black voters (also 15 percent of the electorate) went 83-14 for Obama. That’s a pretty stunning split. White voters (65 percent of the electorate) went 52-31 for Clinton.

Voters who identified “change” as their biggest priority went 57-29 for Obama. Voters who identified “experience” went 86-6 for Clinton. Many more people said they valued change, but still—beating Obama by 80 points on the issue of experience is so stunning I feel like it might be a mistake.

And finally, Obama got the supposedly all-important Culinary Union endorsement 10 days ago. But according to exit polls, only 25-30 percent of voters made up their mind in the last two weeks. Fifty percent said they made up their mind over a month ago. That endorsement may have come too late to make much of a difference. And it is entirely possible that union members didn’t pay attention to it at all.

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