Lunchtime Webinar Series: Portents for November

Edison Research President Larry Rosin presented the second installment in our Lunchtime Webinar Series, Portents for November: A Review of the Edison Research Democratic Primary Exit Polls, on April 16, 2020.

Since 2004, The National Election Pool (NEP) and Edison Research have conducted the only national exit polls in the United States. The NEP is the source for projections and analysis for every midterm election, presidential primary, and presidential election in the United States.

In this webinar, Larry examines the Democratic Primary electorate through findings of exit polls (37,001 in-person interviews) conducted by Edison Research across America. He discusses what we can learn from who voted, which issues mattered to these voters, and what motivated their decisions. He also tackles the question of how exit poll results could indicate what we might see in the Presidential election this November.

A recording of the webinar is now available for viewing:

Click here to download a copy of Edison Research Portents for November .

Click here for more information on Edison Research and exit polls. 

March 10th: Another Good Night for Joe Biden

By Sarah Dutton 

Joe Biden won a large share of the delegates at stake in the March 10 primaries, besting Bernie Sanders in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho. North Dakota went to Sanders. (At the time of this writing, Biden and Sanders were neck and neck in Washington.) Here are some takeaways from the Edison exit poll data in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington that help explain why Biden did so well.  


In Michigan, which Bernie Sanders won four years ago, Sanders’ support was down among many demographic groups compared to 2016. In 2016, he won among men, white voters, white voters without a college degree and union households – all groups he lost to Biden this year. And Sanders’ support was down this year among women, voters age 45 and older, and moderates (groups he lost in 2016 and 2020).  


Large turnout in Mississippi, where nearly seven in ten voters were African American and 87% of them voted for Biden, powered his huge win there. 74% of black voters want to see a return to the policies of Barack Obama.

Sanders was unable to win over many black voters in Michigan (27%) or Missouri (24%) either. 


In Missouri, turnout among voters 65 and over rose from 22% to 31%, and Biden won them by a large margin, 81% to 14% for Sanders. Across all age groups, Sanders’ support was down this year compared to 2016, but especially so among older voters.

Sanders lost among both men and women here; in 2016, he won among men.


In Washington, where 81% are very or somewhat concerned about the Coronavirus, Biden is seen as the best candidate to handle a major crisis – 44% chose him, versus 27% for Sanders. (Biden came out on top in this measure in Michigan too, 50% to 31%.) 

Washington’s primary voters were primarily white. Biden won among whites both with (32% vs 26%) and without (37% vs. 34%) a college education.


Candidate Supporters 

The Edison exit poll data clearly demonstrate the excitement many Sanders’ supporters feel about his candidacy.  In Michigan, Missouri and Washington, more than four in five Sanders voters would be enthusiastic about him as the party’s nominee.

But Joe Biden currently leads in the all-important delegate count. How will Sanders’ supporters feel if their candidate is not the nominee? Few Sanders voters in these three states would be enthusiastic about Biden as the Democratic candidate, and just about a fifth will be upset. 

But as was the case on Super Tuesday, large majorities of Sanders voters in all three states say they will vote for the Democratic nominee in November, no matter which candidate wins the nomination.


Statement from the National Election Pool Regarding March 17th Elections

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the National Election Pool will not be conducting in-person Exit Polls for the primaries on Tuesday March 17th. We will still look to report counted vote totals as they are made available by elections officials and explore other options for reporting the views of voters in the states holding primaries. The National Election Pool remains committed to delivering the most comprehensive coverage of elections in the U.S.

All inquiries should be directed to Joe Lenski, Executive Vice President, Edison Research, at

Noteworthy Nuggets from Super Tuesday

The Edison Research exit polls contain a plethora of noteworthy nuggets of information.  Here are a few additional data points from the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. 

The Black and Latino Vote
In blog posts after the Democratic contests in South Carolina and Nevada, we’ve wondered how African Americans and Latinos vote would on Super Tuesday. Now thanks to the Edison exit polls we have the answers. 

Three days before Super Tuesday, Joe Biden won among African American voters in South Carolina. He continued to win them with strong majorities in the Super Tuesday states as well – especially in southern states, where he won them with enormous margins. 

After winning Latino voters in Nevada, Bernie Sanders also won them in Massachusetts, Texas and California.  He did especially well with this voting group in California, garnering 49% of their support. 

Voters were also asked which candidate best understands the concerns of racial and ethnic minorities. Among all voters in the states in which the question was asked, Biden came out ahead, and he was the overwhelming choice among black voters. Sanders came out on top among Latino voters. 

Late Deciders 
Joe Biden surpassed expectations on Super Tuesday, and late-deciding voters helped propel his strong performance. With Monday’s endorsements from prominent candidates who dropped out, 30% of voters across all twelve states said they made their minds up who to vote for in the last few days, including 10% who decided on election day. Those late deciders went heavily for Biden. 

Last, some exit poll data about electability. As seen in the Edison exit polls in earlier states, Democratic primary voters have consistently prioritized a candidate who can beat President Trump over one with whom they agree on the issues.  That was true on Super Tuesday as well, by nearly two to one: 63% preferred a candidate who can beat Trump, while 34% were looking for a candidate whose issue positions match theirs. 

In eleven states, voters were asked which candidate they thought would be most electable in November. Biden came in at the top, with 37%, followed by Sanders at 28%. 

While the field has narrowed sharply in the last few days, the race for the Democratic nomination is far from over. Next week, voters in Michigan, as well as Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington will weigh in. Both Biden and Sanders have laid claim to working class voters; Michigan’s exit poll data in particular may tell us which candidate has best connected with these voters. 

Click here for more on Edison Research and election polling.

On Super Tuesday “Gaps”

By Sarah Dutton 

The New Generation Gap 

Those who lived through the 1960s remember well the “Generation Gap” of that era, and for those too young to remember, they have likely read about it in history books. History is repeating itself – at least on this year’s Super Tuesday, as a new political generation gap has emerged. 

While it isn’t news that Bernie Sanders supporters include a sizable number of young people, a deeper look at the Edison exit poll data from Super Tuesday shows just how pervasive this new Generation Gap is within the Democratic primary electorate. It exists in many demographic groups, and across many issues. 

First, an overall picture. Looking at all twelve of the Super Tuesday states for which there was an Edison exit poll, half of voters under age 45 voted for Sanders, while Joe Biden was the winner among voters 45 and older. 

These age differences persist regardless of other demographic variables. Whether one looks at white voters, college graduates or those without a degree, men or women, voters under age 45 supported Sanders and those 45 and older chose Biden. Only among black voters do both age groups support Biden and even there his support is much higher among older voters. 

Not surprisingly, Sanders’ support is highest among voters under 30 (58%).  Sanders’ support drops sharply among those 65 and older (15%).   

There is a generation gap on issues as well. Voters over age 45 are more moderate, and more apt to prefer a return to the policies of Barack Obama.  And while both age groups chose health care as the most important issue in their vote choice, older voters are far less supportive of replacing private insurance with a single government plan for everyone. Younger voters also hold a more favorable view of socialism, while older voters are more divided. 

And each age group was looking for different qualities in a candidate. Among those under age 45, 48% were looking for a candidate who can bring needed change. Voters 45 and over were looking for someone who can unite the country (39%). 

Despite these differences, Democratic voters of all ages will need to unite behind a candidate in order to win in November. The exit polls show signs of unity; 80% of those under age 45, and 85% of those 45 and older, say they will vote for the Democratic nominee, regardless of who it is. One caveat – 19% of voters under 45 (and 22% of those under 30) say they will not do so, presumably if their chosen candidate is not the nominee. 

The Gender Gap 

In addition to the generation gap, there is a gender gap too. Sanders won among men, while Biden took the lead among women. Traditionally, the gender “gap” is measured by the difference in the vote between men and women for the night’s winner. Since Biden won the most votes across all twelve states, the “gap” is 5 points (30% – 35%). 

Since 1980, there has also been a gender gap in the November vote for president, as evidenced by the Edison Research national exit poll. The gap rose to double digits in 1996 and 2000, and again in 2012 and 2016. 

What’s behind the Super Tuesday gender gap? Once again, age is a factor. Men who voted were a bit younger than women voters; 38% of men were under age 45, versus 34% of women. And Sanders had greater support among those men under 45 (55%) than among women in that same age group (45%). 

Both men and women say they will unite behind the Democratic nominee in November, although women (87%) are more likely to say so than men (79%).  

Next up, Michigan (among other states), an all-important general election Rust Belt state that Sanders won in 2016. Will he do it again?