Posted by on November 8, 2016 9:47 pm
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With minutes left until the first polls official close at 6pm, the first exit polls have started coming in and they confirm that the economy remains the top issue for a majority of voters, according Edison Research exit polls cited by the WSJ, followed by terrorism, foreign policy and immigration.

The WSJ also notes that voters were asked about Supreme Court appointments and around 70% said it was an important factor or the most important factor in their vote for president, including roughly 1 in 5 voters who said it was the most important factor overall. When it came to the quality that mattered most in picking a candidate, a plurality selected someone who “can bring needed change.” Having “the right experience” and having “good judgment” were tied for second, followed by someone who “cares about people like me.”

The publication also notes that according to exit polls “fear leads optimism” – a message that should benefit Trump. The top choice among voters when asked how they would feel about a Hillary Clinton victory was scared, followed closely by optimistic, concerned and excited. In all, 53% said they would be scared or concerned versus 43% who would be excited or optimistic. Asked about a Donald Trump victory, the order was identical: scared, optimistic, concerned and excited. A total of 58% said they’d be scared or concerned by a Trump victory versus 39% who would be excited or optimistic.

According to an exit poll cited by Fivethirtyeight.com, many voters were motivated by dislike of one of the candidates more than by support for the person they voted for. One in five Clinton voters said they chiefly oppose the other candidate, and 27 percent of Trump supporters said the same; those figures were just 8 percent for Obama voters in 2012 and 10 percent for Romney voters. Asked about Trump’s treatment of women, 70 percent all voters said they were bothered some or a lot; 62 percent said the same about Clinton’s emails while secretary of state.

The website also reports that exit polls confirm that black turnout may be down in North Carolina: only 21 percent of voters in North Carolina identified as black. That’s down slightly from 23 percent in 2012. On the other hand, minority turnout is way up in Florida. In the preliminary exit polls, 39 percent of voters were people of color. That compares to just 33 percent in 2012.

According to ABC, much of the campaign focused on the candidates’ personal qualities. Both reached record levels of unpopularity, with sharp divisions on their fitness for office on items including qualifications, temperament and honesty. In preliminary national exit poll results, 54 percent of voters see Clinton unfavorably and 61 percent say the same of Trump. Comparable numbers in 2012 were 46 for Barack Obama and 50 for Mitt Romney. Substantial numbers also say both Clinton and Trump are not honest and trustworthy — 59 percent in Clinton’s case and 65 percent in Trump’s. It’s unprecedented even to ask this question in an exit poll. Clinton does better, Trump less well, on both qualifications and temperament. Fifty-three percent of voters say she’s qualified for office and 56 percent feel she has the right personality and temperament for the job. Those decline to 37 percent and 34 percent for Trump, respectively, in these preliminary exit poll results.

Trump’s treatment of women and Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state have been highly controversial issues. In preliminary exit poll results, 51 percent of voters say Trump’s treatment of women bothers them a lot, while fewer, 44 percent, say the same about the situation regarding Clinton’s emails. (Note: Interviews representing as much as 40 percent of the national exit poll were conducted in advance of the FBI’s announcement Sunday that it’s renewed review found nothing to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.)

The exit poll also asks which of four other candidate qualities are most important. In preliminary results, 38 percent say it’s someone who can bring about needed change vs. 22 percent who say it’s experience and 22 percent who cite good judgment. Only 15 percent say it’s “someone who cares about people like me.” Among Clinton supporters, experience and judgment are most important, while among Trump supporters, it’s nearly all about change.

Given their unpopularity, Clinton and Trump alike are seeing lukewarm support — including many voters who chiefly oppose their opponent rather than supporting them. This is especially so in Trump’s case, and far different from what we saw in 2012, when 70 percent of Obama’s voters strongly supported him, as did 60 percent of Romney’s, compared to only 10 percent who voted against their candidate’s opponent. Many voters express concern about a Clinton or Trump presidency, and excitement is subdued. Seventeen percent are excited about the prospect of a Clinton presidency, while 29 percent are downright scared about it. On the flip side, just 13 percent are excited about a possible Trump presidency in preliminary exit poll results; 37 percent, scared of it. The divisions are profound. Among Clinton supporters, 72 percent are scared of Trump in office; among Trump voters, 60 percent are scared of what Clinton would do.

So when did voters make their decision? Despite the frantic finish and a series of major events near the end of the race, 75 percent of voters say they decided on their vote more than a month ago. Still, 24 percent of voters say they made their choice in the last month. They’ll both be important groups to watch as the night goes on.

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Finally, while we would normally ignore the propaganda powerhouse that is CNN, for the sake of completeness, its own exit polls suggest that 54% of voters going to the polls today said they approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as President, but only about four in 10 said they would be excited or optimistic about a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency. And more – nearly seven in 10 — said they were dissatisfied or angry with the way the government was working. About four in 10 voters said their top priority in a candidate was one who could bring needed change, but a similar share said they were voting on experience or judgment. Fewer said they were seeking an empathetic candidate.

About eight in 10 said they were at least somewhat confident that the results of the election would be counted accurately.

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