Highlights from survey of Iowa caucus-goers


Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 8:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 11:40 p.m.

Final results of a survey conducted for The Associated Press among voters at the Iowa caucuses Thursday night:

WHAT THEY WANTED

About half of Democrats said they most wanted their candidate to bring about needed change, and Barack Obama won the support of 51 percent of this group. Hillary Rodham Clinton dominated among those citing experience, but they represented only one-fifth of voters. Another fifth said they most wanted a candidate who cared about people like them, and they liked John Edwards. Only about one in 10 said they most wanted a contender with the best chance of capturing the White House, and they opted for Edwards — who finished third.

Among Republicans, more than four in 10 said finding a candidate who shared their values mattered most, and the lion’s share of them — 44 percent — found Mike Huckabee. Another third wanted a candidate who says what he believes, and they also favored Huckabee. A smaller group was looking for experience, and they leaned toward Mitt Romney and John McCain. About one in 10 said they wanted a winner in November, and half picked Romney, the second-place finisher.

TWO PARTIES, TWO SETS OF ISSUES

Given three choices, just over a third of Democrats said Iraq was the chief issue facing the country, with the same number naming the economy. Health care was close behind. Obama had the most support among those naming Iraq and the economy. Of those naming health care — which many polls have shown to be a Clinton strength — 34 percent supported Obama, 30 percent Clinton.

Illegal immigration was the most mentioned issue by Republicans from four choices, with a third saying it was most important. Next, in order, were the economy, terrorism and the war in Iraq. Huckabee led on every issue but terrorism, where he was tied with Romney for the lead and McCain was close behind.

RELIGION

Six in 10 GOP voters said they were born again or evangelical Christians, and by far the largest share —almost half —supported Huckabee. Romney led among non-evangelical voters, getting a third of their support.

More than a third of Republicans said having the same religious beliefs as their candidate was very important, and of that group just over half favored Huckabee.

WHO VOTED HOW

By 35 percent to 30 percent, Obama narrowly edged Clinton among women —a source of strength for Clinton in national polls. Obama had a decisive victory among men.

More than half of voters younger than age 30 were supporting Obama, and he even had a near 2-to-1 lead over her among those age 30 to 44. Clinton had a decisive lead among the oldest voters.

As in past Iowa caucuses and other presidential nomination contests, the Democratic turnout was predominantly female, while a majority of Republicans were male.

In a disappointment for Edwards, he was trailing among the roughly one-quarter of voters from union households —an area where he had hoped to do well.

Democratic caucus-goers were a little younger on average than their Republican counterparts.

PARTISANSHIP

In the Democratic race, about three-fourths said they were Democrats and Clinton and Obama ran about even among them. That group was supposed to be a Clinton strength. Among the one-fifth who were independents, Obama had a substantial lead, with Edwards running a distant second.

An overwhelming number of those at the GOP caucuses said they were Republican, and Huckabee led among them. Of the roughly one in 10 independents, Ron Paul was doing best with 29 percent of their votes, followed by McCain, Romney and Huckabee.

Surveys conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International at 40 sites each for Democratic and Republican caucuses in Iowa. Results included interviews with 1,600 Republicans and 2,136 Democrats. Sampling error in each survey was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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