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Survey: Economy remains top concern for voters

Benedict freshman Kadeeja Vaughn rests her head on her boyfriend's shoulder while waiting in line to vote at the David H. Swinton Campus Center in Columbia, S.C. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Kim Foster-tobin / The State)
Benedict freshman Kadeeja Vaughn rests her head on her boyfriend's shoulder while waiting in line to vote at the David H. Swinton Campus Center in Columbia, S.C. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Kim Foster-tobin / The State)
Frederic J. Frommer Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Preliminary results from a national exit poll in Tuesday’s elections for The Associated Press and the television networks:



Fifty-nine percent of voters said the economy was the biggest issue facing the country, about the same percentage as 2008. Next were health care (18 percent) and the deficit (15 percent). A measly 5 percent said foreign policy was the top issue. Seventy-seven percent of voters called the economy not so good or poor. Voters split about equally on the question of which candidate would better handle the economy. And about half said former President George W. Bush is more to blame for the current economic problems, while 4 in 10 laid the blame with the current president.


Just under 4 in 10 voters said unemployment was the biggest economic problem facing voters like them. Nearly as many called rising prices the biggest economic problem. Taxes and housing were a distant third and fourth, respectively.


Forty-one percent of voters said that President Barack Obama’s response to Superstorm Sandy was important in their vote for president, and, not surprisingly, most supported his re-election. The 54 percent who said it wasn’t important in their vote mostly supported Republican challenger Mitt Romney.


Romney, who joked at a secretly recorded fundraiser that “it would be helpful to be Latino,” was losing badly to Obama in the Hispanic vote. Romney was up big among white voters, while more than 90 percent of black voters were backing Obama.


About 4 in 10 voters said the U.S. economy was getting better, while 3 in 10 said it was getting worse and 3 in 10 said it was the same.

About a quarter of voters said their family’s financial situation is better than it was four years ago, while 4 in 10 reported it was about the same. Both groups supported Obama. One-third of voters said they were worse off, and they were voting for Romney.


A majority of those under 45 voted for Obama, with people under 30 backing the president in especially large numbers. But people 45 and over were breaking for Romney.


Fifty-three percent of voters said that Obama is more in touch with people like them, compared to 43 percent for Romney. Obama was getting a majority of voters whose family income was less than $50,000 last year, while Romney led among those with $50,000 or more. Most voters said that Romney’s policies would generally favor the rich, while only 1 in 10 said that was the case for the president’s policies.


Six in 10 voters said that taxes should be increased. Nearly half of voters said that taxes should be increased on income over $250,000, as Obama has called for, while 1 in 7 said taxes should be increased for all. Just over one-third said taxes should not be increased for anyone. But more than 6 in 10 voters said taxes should not be raised to cut the budget deficit.


Just under 50 percent of voters favored repealing some or all of Obamacare. Forty-four percent preferred that the health care law be expanded or left as is.


Only 3 in 10 voters said that most illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be deported, while nearly two-thirds said such people should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.


Just under one-third of voters said vision for the future mattered most in their vote for president, and a similar number said sharing their values was the most important candidate quality.


As usual, women voted in larger numbers, making up 53 percent of the vote. Democrats made up 37 percent of the vote, with 33 percent Republican and 30 percent independent or something else.


The survey of 23,467 voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 350 precincts nationally Tuesday, as well as 4,408 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.


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