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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Exit poll looks behind the voting

By The Associated Press

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Why New Hampshire Democrats and independents say they voted as they did:

Issues: Health care, Iraq and the economy were the most important issues to voters. Three in 10 voters said health care was the most important issue in how they voted, and they favored John Kerry, followed by Howard Dean. Two in 10 named the economy, and that group tended to back Kerry; two in 10 chose Iraq, a group that leaned toward Dean.

Qualities: Three in 10 said they most wanted a candidate who would stand up for what he believes in, and they favored Dean by more than 2-to-1 over Kerry.

Independents: Almost half said they were registered as independents. One-third of independents backed Kerry, one-fourth backed Dean and the rest were split among John Edwards, Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman. That's up from three in 10 who said they were registered as independents in the 2000 Democratic primary.

Military: Kerry, a Vietnam War hero, led Dean and Clark, a retired Army general, among voters from military households and among veterans.

Gender: Almost six in 10 voters were women.

Tax cuts: Most voters favored rolling back at least some of President Bush's tax cuts. Dean did best among the one-third who want to roll back all the tax cuts, while Kerry did better among those who want to roll back tax cuts only for the wealthy.

Personal finances: Almost four in 10 said their family's financial situation is worse now than it was four years ago, while roughly the same number said it was about the same. Kerry led among the four in 10 who said their financial situation was worse.

War in Iraq: Sentiment was strong against the war in Iraq, with four in 10 saying they strongly disapprove and two in 10 saying they are somewhat disapproving of the war. Dean and Kerry were closely competing for the support of those who disapproved of the war.

The exit poll was conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International. The survey questioned 1,848 voters in the Democratic primary. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall Democratic sample.


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