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Exit poll finds few GOP voters cast protest votes

Voter Joe Cieslo filled out an exit poll in Johnstown, Pa.Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump attracted a broad coalition of Republican voters as he won presidential primary elections in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania on Tuesday, pulling in support from young and old, men and women and those who want a candidate who will shake things up.

Trump also won the GOP primaries in Delaware and Rhode Island, two states where exit polls were not conducted.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew overwhelming support from women and black voters as she beat Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Maryland and Pennsylvania primaries. Clinton also won in Delaware, while Sanders took Rhode Island.


In Pennsylvania, most Democratic voters in the state say they've been energized by the primary battle between Clinton and Sanders. But most GOP voters believe the heated contest among Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has divided their party.

Those were among the early findings from exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

Other highlights from the exit polls:



Trump won across nearly all demographic groups— age, gender and education levels — in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The billionaire businessman also did well with those most concerned about the state of the U.S. economy, and he bested Cruz and Kasich with voters who want the next president to tell it like it is or bring needed change to the country.

Overall, a large majority of Republican voters in all three states want the candidate with the most votes in the primaries to prevail at the party convention in Cleveland — and most of them supported Trump.



Clinton was supported by three-quarters of black voters, who made up nearly half of all voters in the state. Two-thirds of women and more than half of men supported Clinton over Sanders, as did all age groups except those under 30.


More than 7 in 10 Maryland Democratic voters saw Clinton as the better candidate to beat Trump, 6 in 10 said she was the best candidate to handle gun policy and more than half saw her as the more inspiring candidate.

Six in 10 want a continuation of President Barack Obama’s policies rather than a move to more or less liberal policies. Three-quarters of those wanting a continuation supported Clinton.

In Pennsylvania, Clinton won with the support of black voters, women and those looking for an experienced candidate who can win in November.

More than 6 in 10 Democratic voters in the state said Clinton has the best chance of beating Trump in November. Clinton was supported by most of those who identified themselves as moderate or somewhat liberal, but she also pulled even with Sanders among those saying they were very liberal.



For Cruz, it was a rough night. Four in 10 in Connecticut, a third in Pennsylvania and three in 10 in Maryland said they wouldn’t vote for Cruz if he was the GOP nominee. And in Pennsylvania, nearly 6 in 10 say they would be either concerned or scared about a Cruz presidency.

Still, most Republicans in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania said they are voting for their candidate, rather than against his opponents.

Only a quarter of voters in Connecticut and Maryland said they voted for someone because they opposed the other candidates. And in Pennsylvania, just one in five say they were casting a negative vote.


In Pennsylvania, Trump was more polarizing than either of the other candidates. While over a third of GOP voters said they would be excited by a Trump administration, another third said they would be scared or concerned.



Most Democratic voters in Pennsylvania say they've been energized by the closely contested primary between Clinton and Sanders.

But Pennsylvania Republicans say the opposite about the heated contest among Trump, Cruz and Kasich.

About seven in 10 voters in Pennsylvania say the Democratic campaign has energized the party rather than divided it, while about 6 in 10 GOP voters say the Republican campaign this year has divided the party. Only 4 in 10 Republican voters say they've been energized.


The surveys were conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 25 to 35 randomly selected sites in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland.

Preliminary results include interviews with 1,223 to 1,313 Democratic primary voters and 745 to 1,228 Republican primary voters in each state. The results among all those voting in each contest have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus either 4 or 5 percentage points.