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Feb 27, 2016 10:03 PM

Exit poll: Black voters lead Clinton to resounding victory

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Hillary Clinton won the support of an overwhelming majority of black voters, large majorities of men and women, and even a majority of voters under 45 on her way to a claiming a commanding victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday.

There were few bright spots for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to the exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

What the exit poll found:



About 6 in 10 voters in South Carolina's Democratic primary were black, by far the largest proportion of African-Americans in any of the contests so far. And nearly 9 in 10 black voters supported Clinton.

White voters were more closely divided between Clinton and Sanders.

Black primary voters were more likely to say they trust Clinton over Sanders to handle race relations, with more than 4 in 10 saying they only trust her and less than 1 in 10 saying they only trust him. Just over 4 in 10 said they trust both.

Among all primary voters Saturday black and white 8 in 10 said the issue of race relations was important to their vote. Among black primary voters, a third said it was the most important issue to them.



Six in 10 South Carolina primary voters were women, and 8 in 10 of them said they voted for Clinton. She was also supported by about 7 in 10 men.

Six in 10 white women supported Clinton, while a majority of white men said they voted for Sanders.

Clinton ate into Sanders' advantage among young voters. Although he was supported by a slim majority of primary voters under 30, she was supported by about three-quarters of those between the ages of 30 and 44, as well as 8 in 10 of those 45 and older.

Clinton won a majority of women under 45, a group that backed Sanders in the previous contests. This time around, they divided the vote among women under 30, but 8 in 10 of those between age 30 and 44 said they voted for Clinton.

Two-thirds of white voters under 45 supported Sanders, but among blacks, that group went overwhelmingly for Clinton.

Clinton won the support of majorities of liberals, moderates and conservatives in Saturday's contest. Eight in 10 primary voters said they were Democrats, and 8 in 10 of them were Clinton voters. Among independents, a slim majority backed Sanders.



Clinton was supported by over 9 in 10 voters saying experience was the most important quality in choosing a candidate, and 8 in 10 of those saying it was most important to choose a candidate who can win in November. She was also supported by 7 in 10 voters saying they want a candidate who cares about people like them.

Among those looking for a candidate who is honest and trustworthy, Sanders and Clinton split the vote. Democrats looking for a candidate who cares about people like them or one who is honest and trustworthy overwhelmingly supported Sanders in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. In South Carolina, he was still supported by majorities of white voters who cared most about a candidate being honest or caring about people like them.

Questions about Clinton's honesty have dogged her throughout the campaign and appeared to be a weakness in earlier contests. But in South Carolina, three-quarters of voters said Clinton is honest, more than the two-thirds who said the same of Sanders.



More than half of voters said they trust only Clinton not Sanders to handle an international crisis, while another third of voters said they trust both of them. Less than 1 in 10 said they trust Sanders over Clinton.

Clinton won majorities of voters saying they think the economy, health care or terrorism are the most important issue facing the country, and she even led among those saying income inequality is most important.

More than 4 in 10 South Carolina primary voters said the economy is the most important issue, more than in any other state so far.



Three-quarters of voters said they want the next president to generally continue President Barack Obama's policies, while just 2 in 10 want the next president's policies to be more liberal. Clinton was supported by 8 in 10 of those wanting a continuation of Obama's policies, while Sanders was supported by a majority of those wanting more liberal policies.

Nearly 9 in 10 primary voters Saturday said they prefer a candidate with political experience to an outsider, and 8 in 10 of those voters said they supported Clinton.


The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as Democratic voters left their polling places at 30 randomly selected sites in South Carolina. The preliminary results include interviews with 1,461 Democratic primary voters and have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/EL_Swan


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