Exit Poll: Independents Lean Toward Change In Mass.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Ohio Tuesday. (John Minchillo/AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Ohio Tuesday. (John Minchillo/AP)

Donald Trump was favored by Republican voters across the board in Tuesday’s Massachusetts primary while Democratic voters were divided, reflecting the close race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, according to exit poll results.

Trump had strong support from conservatives as well as moderates, from male and female voters and among all ages and income groups. He won roughly 50 percent of independent voters who cast ballots in the GOP primary as well as about 50 percent of those who identify as Republicans.

The exit poll was conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.

Independents who voted in the Democratic primary tilted toward Sanders by a nearly 2-1 margin, but Clinton held 6 in 10 voters who call themselves Democrats while eking out a narrow win.

Here is a closer look at the mood of the electorate in Massachusetts:

TRUMP DOMINANT

Trump won roughly half the votes of those who identified themselves as Republicans as well as those who consider themselves independent but voted in the GOP primary. Voters who considered themselves moderate, somewhat conservative and very conservative all backed Trump by wide margins in Massachusetts, the exit poll showed. He was strongly favored by those who characterized themselves as angry or dissatisfied with government and he was also the overwhelming favorite among voters who sought a candidate who “tells it like it is.” But among voters who said “sharing my values” was the quality that mattered most to them, Trump did not fare as well, trailing rivals John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

DEMOCRATIC DIVIDE

Sanders led among male voters and handily topped voters under the age of 30. He also led among voters whose annual incomes were $50,000 or less. But Clinton’s narrow win came in part due to stronger support among women and older voters, and she also led among those whose annual incomes were $50,000 or more.

TRUST VS. EXPERIENCE

Stark differences also emerged among Democratic voters when asked which of several qualities were most important to the candidate they chose. An overwhelming number of voters who valued experience above other qualities selected Clinton, as did about 4 in 5 voters who considered the ability to defeat the Republican nominee in November.

Conversely, voters who said honesty mattered most to them broke overwhelmingly for Sanders, and 7 of 10 who valued most the phrase “cares about people like me,” also chose the Vermont senator.

INDEPENDENT INFLUENCE

People who are not enrolled in any political party make up more than 53 percent of the registered voters in Massachusetts and could vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries.

And it appeared these independent-minded voters in the Republican primary were leaning strongly in the direction of candidates viewed as outside the political mainstream. More than half of Republican primary voters said they preferred an outsider over someone with political experience, and nearly 3 in 4 of them were in Trump’s corner.

ON THE ISSUES

When Democratic voters were asked which of four issues — health care, economy/jobs, terrorism or income inequality — was the most important facing the country, about 4 in 10 chose the economy and 3 in 10 said income inequality. About 6 in 10 of those citing income inequality supported Sanders, who has made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. Clinton led slightly among those who saw the overall economy and jobs as the key issue, and had wider leads among voters who identified health care or terrorism as most important.

The four issues Republicans were asked to choose from as most important were immigration, economy/jobs, terrorism and government spending. Trump led in all of those categories, but was most dominant among the nearly 1 in 5 Republican primary voters who called immigration the most important issue.

The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 25 randomly selected sites in Massachusetts. Results include interviews with 1,406 Democratic primary voters and 801 Republican primary voters. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points for Republican primary voters and plus or minus 4 percentage points for Democratic primary voters.

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