The first Super Tuesday exit polls are out — and there is good news for Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) as they try to prevent frontrunner Donald Trump from advancing toward the Republican nomination.
In Texas, ABC News reports, exit polls show several factors favoring a strong finish for Cruz on home turf:
Fewer than half of GOP voters – about four in 10 – are looking for a political outsider, fewer than anywhere else. Nearly four in 10 in preliminary exit poll data also say it matters a great deal to them to support a candidate who shares their religious beliefs, and six in 10 are evangelicals. Two-thirds say they’d be satisfied with Ted Cruz as the nominee, a high for him among all states in which we have exit polls – compared with nearly six in 10 for Rubio and less than half for Trump. That said, two-thirds of GOP primary voters in Texas want to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, as Trump has suggested.
A staggering 51% of Texas Republican voters are “angry” at the federal government, while 40% are merely “dissatisfied,” CBS news reports. Similar proportions hold in Georgia. However, in Virginia, those proportions are reversed, with only 36% “angry” at the government. ABC adds:
Half of voters want someone with political experience rather than an outsider, the only state today where that’s the case. Preliminary exit poll results indicate that fewer GOP primary voters in Virginia than elsewhere want to ban non-U.S. Muslims, deport undocumented immigrants or are angry with the government. And among today’s Southern states, shared religious beliefs are least important to Virginia voters.
The exit polls also indicate that 22% of overall Republican voters on Super Tuesday made up their minds in the past few days, while an unusually low proportion — 42% — made up their minds more than a month ago.
It would seem, then, that Rubio’s energetic attacks on Trump over the past few days may have brought more of his vote to the polls in Virginia (and possibly Minnesota, where he led the most recent polls). Cruz, meanwhile, seems to have brought his vote out in Texas, after a solid debate performance last week.
Update: Rubio crushed his rivals among late deciders in Virginia:
Fox News exit poll: Late Deciders (VIRGINIA)
— Nick Jacob (@nicktjacob) March 1, 2016
However, there are few other surprises. As Rubio guarantees that Trump will not have the delegates he needs to win, and Cruz warns that candidates who fail to win their home states (hint: Rubio, who is far behind in Florida) should quit, Trump appears likely to dominate in the states where he is already doing well.
The result may be a primary contest that maintains its present pattern, with Rubio and Cruz refusing to capitulate, and Trump closing in on the goal — though nearly half of Republican voters in several states told exit polls they would be dissatisfied if he is the nominee.