Exit Polls from Montana and South Dakota Primaries

By Beacon Staff

Preliminary results from exit polls and phone surveys conducted for The Associated Press and television networks in presidential primaries Tuesday in Montana and South Dakota:

DEMS ENERGIZED OR DIVIDED?

Did the long Democratic primary season leave the party energized or divided? Perhaps appropriately, voters in both states were fairly evenly split on the question. In both states about half said the lengthy contest energized the party, about four in 10 said it divided the party, and the rest said they didn’t know or skipped the question.

RANCOR SUBSIDING?
The surveys indicated Hillary Rodham Clinton’s backers were a little less hostile toward Barack Obama than in most other recent primaries.

In six out of the last seven primaries, at least 60 percent of Clinton voters said they would be dissatisfied if Obama won the nomination — including 72 percent in Mississippi, 73 percent in West Virginia and 77 percent in Kentucky. But barely half of Clinton’s backers in Montana and South Dakota said they would be dissatisfied with Obama as the nominee. Tuesday’s results were comparable to the exit poll results in the Super Tuesday primaries on Feb. 5.

In both states about a third of Clinton voters asserted they would vote for Republican John McCain or stay home in November rather than vote for Obama.

RATING HONESTY
About seven in 10 in both states called Obama honest and trustworthy. Nearly as many said that about Clinton in South Dakota but barely half in Montana called her honest and trustworthy.

ECONOMIC WORRIES
More than a third in both states said the recession or economic slowdown has affected their families a great deal and close to half said it has affected them somewhat — comparable to exit poll results from earlier primaries.

Given a list of three issues, voters in both states were most likely to say the economy was the most important issue facing the country. A little more than half said that in South Dakota while about four in 10 said so in Montana.

Partial results from exit poll samples conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International in 20 precincts each across Montana and South Dakota. The early results were based on interviews with 756 voters in South Dakota and 562 in Montana, including about 250 early or absentee voters in each state who were interviewed by telephone from Tuesday through Sunday.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.