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 jlenski@edisonresearch.com.

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. 

Electability 
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. 

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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?

Edison Research Conducts Exit Polls on Super Tuesday 2020

On Tuesday, March 3, 2020, Edison Research successfully conducted exit polling on behalf of the National Election Pool (NEP). Edison Research interviewed over 25,000 voters at randomly-selected voting sites.

Edison Research’s exit polls are used to determine key information from voters, including demographic data, important issues and the “electability” of the various candidates. Edison’s election team captured, processed and analyzed thousands of data points and enabled our member clients and subscribers real-time access to in-depth analysis of the results.

Coverage of  Super Tuesday voter polls can be found here:

ABC News: Takeaways from Super Tuesday Exit Polls

CBS News: Super Tuesday 2020 Updates

CNN: Live Updates Super Tuesday 2020

NBC News: 2020 Super Tuesday Live Updates

Reuters: Super Tuesday Voters Largely Split Into Two Camps

The New York Times: How Super Tuesday Unfolded

The Washington Post: Exit Polls from the 2020 Democratic Super Tuesday Contests

About the NEP-Edison Research Entrance Polls: Edison Research conducted exit polls for the National Election Pool (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC) during the 2020 Super Tuesday nominating contests. Over 25,000 voters were polled.

Click here for more about Edison Research and election polling.

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.

The South Carolina Primary: A Quick Look at Black Voters

By Sarah Dutton 

The South Carolina Democratic primary not only represented a must-win state for Joe Biden if he wanted to keep his candidacy viable, but it was also the first contest with a sizable African American voting population.  And with help from that voting bloc, Biden won the primary there. 

According to the Edison exit poll data there, 56% of voters in South Carolina were African American – down from 61% in 2016 – and they overwhelmingly supported Biden; he won 61% of their vote. Bernie Sanders came in second, far behind at 17%.  (Biden won among white voters as well, but by a far smaller margin.)  

Older black voters were especially strong Biden supporters; 69% of those over age 45 voted for Biden.

There were clear signs of how strongly black voters in South Carolina relate to Biden. Fully 84% of black voters hold a favorable view of Biden, higher than for any other candidate. He was the overwhelming choice for which candidate best understands the concerns of racial and ethnic minorities; 55% of black voters chose him.  And 60% of black voters said the endorsement of Biden by Representative Jim Clyburn – a senior black member of Congress from this state – was an important factor in their vote; 64% of them voted for Biden. 

And in what could only help Biden, 66% of black voters said they want a return to the policies of Barack Obama. 

As the Democratic nominating race moves into the Super Tuesday states, exit poll data will show whether Biden’s strong showing among black voters continues, and how much it contributes to his delegate count.

In the states voting on Super Tuesday, if historical trends hold black voters may not be as large a force as they were in South Carolina. Looking back at Edison exit poll data from the Democratic primaries in 2016, in only one of the states holding races this Tuesday did the black share of the vote reach as high as it was in South Carolina this year – in Alabama, 54% of 2016 Democratic primary voters were black.  Black voters were a smaller but still substantial percentage of the electorate in Tennessee (32%), North Carolina (32%), Arkansas (27%) and Virginia (26%). But in states like Oklahoma (14%), Massachusetts (4%) and Vermont (1%), they were a small sliver of voters. In states with low percentages of black voters, Biden will have to draw support from other groups of voters as well to prevail. 

In Texas, the voter group to watch are Latinos. While 19% of 2016 primary voters in Texas were black, they were outnumbered by Latinos, who comprised 32% of the electorate there.      

Edison Research will have its exit polling team spread out across the Super Tuesday states tomorrow. We’ll let you know how it all plays out.