January 30th, 2008
09:40 AM ET
15 years ago

Exit polls: Conservatives choose Romney over McCain

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/30/art.mccain.ap.jpg caption="Romney beat McCain among conservatives in Florida."](CNN) - John McCain has long had trouble courting the most conservative members of his party, and exit polls of Florida Republican primary voters show a sizeable number continued not to support him.

According to the exit polls, 62 percent of primary voters identified themselves as conservative and 37 percent of them voted for Mitt Romney, compared to the 29percent who went for McCain. That McCain continues to lose among his party's most conservative members could provide a small opening for Romney heading into super Tuesday.

But McCain was the overwhelming favorite among the 28 percent of Republican voters who identified themselves as moderate, and the 11 percent who said they were liberal. The Arizona senator beat Romney among moderates 43-21 percent, and among liberals 49 percent to 24 percent.

The Florida Republican primary was a key test for McCain - it was the first major early contest that bars voters who are registered Independents - a group that has been crucial to McCain's earlier wins.

"Florida has always been a special place to me, and it is even more so tonight," McCain said to supporters during his victory speech. "Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions, but it is sweet nonetheless."

- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Exit Polls • Florida
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Susan

    How can Hillary declare victory when there's been no race in Florida? The demo. candidates weren't supposed to campaign in Florida and here she is declaring victory. Doesn't anybody get it? This woman is dishonorable, has no integrity and will do anything to get elected.

    January 29, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. Kate

    "Achille's heel?" Come on guys.

    January 29, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  3. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Hey CNN. I didn't vote for McCain today. But he still will win a majority of the Republican vote AND, should he win the nomination, all indicators are that his "Achilles heel" will also gain him the votes of many Independents. And let us not forget that the demise of Guiliani is guaranteed to result in an endorsement of McCain (Guiliani is the guy who came in third, btw). Achille's heel or not, he's in the catbird seat. Who writes this stuff anyway .....

    January 29, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Jim

    Guys.. When McCain won New Hampshire and South Carolina CNN analysts made a big deal that McCain couldn't win Republicans but won it with independents. Just wait until Florida where only registered Republicans vote. Now it looks like McCain is going to win Florida and the analysts are now saying McCain is not winning over Conservatives... Give it a rest. Someone is voting for him and giving him victories.

    January 29, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. Dukakis 09!!

    And still no talk of Guiliani yet? how sad...

    January 29, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Bonnie

    Interesting that the Democratic 'beauty contest' yielded more votes for Senator Clinton than either McCain or Romney tallied in their primary – granted, only about half the votes have been counted but Dems seem more motivated to get out and vote even knowing their votes won't count . . .

    January 29, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  7. NOAJ

    RE: Ticker: Exit polls: McCain's Achille's heel?
    It's Achilles' heel. Greek names typically end in S.

    January 29, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. robert

    This will be interesting in the end; its a political scientists dream for close races.

    January 29, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. Richard

    They don't support him because he tries to hold them accountable! The Bastards...

    January 29, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    I can't imagine a better election than one without the subversive anti-american conservatives.

    January 29, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. David

    Why is John McCain winning? Come on, Floridans!

    January 29, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  12. Jolat

    McCain is the democrats pick for the republican nominee. say hello to president hillary/obama.

    January 29, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  13. MJ IN Arizona

    Some news reports show that Independents did vote in this election. This story is in direct opposition to those reports. What are the facts?

    January 29, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  14. john

    Romney is for protecting our orders. McCain isn't.\

    January 29, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. Bren

    I'm not sure why Republicans (which I was – until about a week ago when I decided that I wanted to vote for Obama to such an extent that I wanted – for the first time ever – to vote in a primary election. Um. Yeah. I'm a convert!) would choose Romney over McCain. McCain is clearly the Republican canidate for moderates.

    At least Huckabee is out. Huckabee has no concept of the Constitution considering that he wants to change it according to his religious views. Hello! Huckabee! The Constitution is all about separation of church and state!

    Oh my! As I'm typing this, the news is just anouncing that McCain is the winner!! Woot!! McCain is a worthy adversary, for sure!

    Huckabee – just drop out. Try not to consider it a personal disgrace that you would mess up the Constitution to forward your own ideals.

    January 29, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  16. Fay Logan

    Romney reminds me of a mean, spiteful kid. Just something about him I do not
    like. It's called "instant dislike."

    January 29, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Uhhh Bonnie. Not that it matters considering the unusual circumstances, but keep the facts straight. Approximately 30% more Republicans cast votes than Democrats. Government schools, huh.

    January 29, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. Bill, Covington,LA


    Why would you think the vote would be any different? Most of Florida is made up of snowbirds and illegals and those people normally vote Democrat if they can read the ballot.

    January 29, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  19. Gary

    If you want another Bush Man, vote for McCain his only representation to the people is the war, because thats the only thing he knows. He admitted he knew nothing about economics. We need a full time President.

    We need a President that knows what the people want and needs, and this certainly is not McCain. McCain reminds me of an old man that is sleep walking.

    January 29, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  20. Michelle

    regarding the democratic comment....how disappointing to see how eager people are to vote for someone with no character. Hilllary will do anything for a win. If Hillary were to get the nomination, the republicans will be in the white house.

    January 29, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  21. john

    Defeat McCain in November. He's the wrong nominee.

    January 29, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. Lewis

    McCain will be the next US President because he is most qualified to lead.
    Why do so many want to rock the boat and put some worthless tax and spend democrat in the white house with no experience to lead. Minus Edwards, the democrats have no one. If Edwards were not so anti-gun I would vote for him over any Republican other than John McCain.

    January 29, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  23. chuck

    The first veto John McCain will sign is his own McCain-Kennedy immigration bill if you believe what he is saying now!

    January 29, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. bob carlisle

    if qualified means no executive experience, flip flopping for decades or courting lefties then mcain is qualified, or if you mean getting caught by the enemy in vietnam and running on that platform for way too long then i dont think he is overly qualified. john kerry was a war hero too.

    January 29, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  25. eve, atlanta, ga

    Love McCain, he has the most integrity of them all, including Democrats. I wish Obama would stop calling anybody with experience – a.k.a. qualifications for the job – a "washington insider". as if working your way up, serving your country for several decades, is somehow a bad thing. give me a break. i'm done with Obama, switching to McCain.

    January 29, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
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