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. Philip G.

    McCain can't win a national election. He's proven that in the past. The only real conservative is Romney. Wake up, people! If McCain gets the nod, we'll be saluting Queen Hillary or Crown Prince Obama.

    January 29, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. Brenda Y

    Agree, its ridiculous to declare victory in a state where Obama did not run a single ad and make a single appearance. Especially given Hillary is more the household name from the past. Shameful display by Hillary and I actually am getting tired of her fighting unfairly. I was pretty convinced I'd vote for her 3-4 months ago but must admit I'm undecided now between her and Obama.

    January 29, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  3. Scott

    So the country wants change, out of Iraq and the economy fixed. So Republicans want to nominate someone who has been in Washington forever, wants to stay in Iraq for a hundred years and has never run the economy of a state or city or company. Sounds like a prescription for failure.

    January 29, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. Danny

    Romney is a liberal! Just look at his record. Rush Limbaugh (Romney's employee) has been misleading his "dittoheads" into supporting the flip flopper.

    Huckabee is far more conservative than McCain or Romney.

    Mitt is a disgrace to the republican party!

    January 29, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. Ted

    The only REAL conservative is Ron Paul!
    Too bad voters don't care about the constitution and limited government anymore. That is what being a conservative in America USED to be about.

    January 29, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  6. Gene

    WAKE UP REPUBLICANS!!!!! The other side will get in if you don't support a winner. Romney is the only one who can take them down. The media pumps up McCain because he can't win against the Left. He's one of them. Wake up before it's too late!

    FIGHT ON, MITT!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  7. Kyle

    I agree with Susan. Hilary Clinton is a dishonest and untrustworthy candidate. She now wants Florida's delegates to have their votes for the convention, which was specifically forbade by the Democratic party. As a Democrat, I would vote for McCain over Hillary if she were to win the Democratic nomination. This is the case for many other Democrats. Hillary has divided the party and therefore cannot win in the general election.

    January 30, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  8. Antoine

    Hey Danny;

    If Mitt is a liberal ...than your name is Fanny!!! not Danny. He's a social conservative (look up mormonism) and certainly and economic conservative, how else could he have made hundreds of millions?? Wake up man.

    You want to vote for a 72 year old who looks like 82 and will be 94 in preidential years in 2012 then go ahead. Just cause some survived Hanoi Hilton does not makr him the best candidate. Just watching Mitts speech tonight, shows how deep a man he is and how much we need strong families, a stronger economy and a stronger military. Mitts the man, but sadly Florida might have finished him.

    Sleep well tonight "Grandpa" McCain.


    January 30, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  9. Apollo

    McCain v Obama

    Old, angry, ugly guy versus Young, happy, better looking guy.

    Who wins with our Paris Hilton voters?

    Who wins with the 20-40 somethings?

    Not old, angry guy. Older people vote more, right? Not this time.

    Did Florida give him this one because "it is his turn" ????

    Wasn't it Bob Dole's turn in 1996?

    How did that work out for us?

    He was a war hero, injured badly, long-time senator, lots of votes, lots of baggage, lost to a populist governor (who is a convict)...still, he lost.

    If McCain gets the nod, it will be deja vu all over again...the demoncrats will party like its 1996.

    January 30, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  10. vietasianfox45

    Bren, I totally agree with you on Huckabee. He is way too conservative and if he wins the presidency (which he will not), he will definitely want to change the constitution to make it so that he would make USA into a religious country. That is NOT what this country is all about. Our founding fathers purposely made sure the state is separate from church. If this country becomes religious, I feel that there will be a religious world war between the Moslems against the Christians!! I do not see Huckabee winning at all. I was hoping that it would be a two-man race between Giuliani and McCain, since I like both of them, somewhat. I do not mind moderate or liberal Republicans, but I will almost always vote Democrat. The only exception would have been 2004 if McCain had the Republican nomination, instead of Bush!! I would have voted for McCain with no hesitation, only because Kerry was flip-flopping with some issues and did not concentrate on the economy enough. I only voted for him as an anti-Bush vote.

    I despise Christian fundamentalists because most of them oppose open records for adoptees. I totally believe that ANYONE, who have the nerve to oppose open records for adoptees, are totally against freedom. We adoptees have the right to our records and know who we are. They don't know how it feels to be adopted. There is one book called The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child. I never thought that there are FOUR types of abuse. Three of them are well-known: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The book also explained that there was another type which no one ever considers as abuse: separation from birthparents. Separating someone from the birthparents scars the adoptees for life. Of those who oppose open records consider that open records would lead to more abortions, which is totally a lie since Pennsylvania proved the Christian fundamentalists wrong. Having open records does not lead to more abortions.

    About abortions, I am very shocked that many women are against it!! After all, it is their bodies, not other people's bodies. The way I see it is that any woman, who is against abortion, wants men to tell them what to do with their boides. That is my belief. If you really think of it logically, what I am saying makes sense. On the other hand, I feel that we men have no right telling women what to do with their own bodies. They do not control women's bodies. We can give advice, but it should be ultimately up to the woman to decide, not men!!

    The only reason why McCain won South Carolina was that the conservates voted among three candidates: Huckabee (the most conservate), Thompson (less conservative than Huckabee, but more conservate than Romney), and Romney (who is the least conservative of the three). Huckabee almost won South Carolina because of the conservate votes. I read that if Thompson's voters were split between Romney and Huckabee, Huckabee would have won South Carolina, which is the most conservative state.

    Gary, I disagree with you that McCain is like Bush, McCain does not really like Bush, but I agree wtih you that he will continue Bush's policies in Iraq. Remember the 2000 Republican Primaries when Bush defeated McCain?? McCain still disagreed with Bush, even after his defeat. McCain is a moderate Republican, whereas Bush is a very conservative Republican like his father before him.

    I see the Democrats winning in November because the Americans want respect from the world again. I do not think teh world will ever respect USA ever again becasue of Bush!! Bush had made even our own allies uncomfortable like Germany and France. IF the Republicans win in November, the USA will eventually have NO allies left by the time the Republican leave office AGAIN!! Already, the Russians do not like us because of Bush. Another thing is that I know for a fact if Bush had it his way, he would draw the USA into a war with Iran and we would end up having a nuclear war with Russia, which will NOT stand by to see its neighbor invaded by a Western power. In my opinion, that is exactly what Bush wants if he had it his way!!

    January 30, 2008 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  11. vietasianfox45

    Bren, I totally agree with you about Huckabee. He wants to make this country into a religious country like Iran or other very religious country. Yes, true that the constitution states that there will be separation of state and church. I feel that IF Huckabee wins the Presidency (which he won't), he would try to change the constitution. Our forefathers had a reason for separation of state and church. They wanted religious freedom, not religious slavery which Huckabee wants for this country!! If he gets his way, we would go into a religious world war with the Moslems. We would lose our freedom of religion, speech, and other freedoms.

    I also despise many Christian fundamentalists because they are opposed to open records for adoptees. They want to deny us of our rights!! We adoptees should have a right to know who we are and who our birthparents are. We did not choose to be given up. We were forced to be separated from our birthparents. The Christian fundamentalists have no clue as to our feelings or issues, and they CLAIM to be followers of God??!! That is very hypocritical of them!! Another thing that really shocks me is that PEOPLE claim they want family values??!! Those people who claim family values and are against open records are DEFINITELY HYPOCRITES!! They want families to be closely knit, yet they don't want adoptees to be with their birthfamilies. Does that make sense at all??!! To me, it doesn't.

    As for South Carolina, the most conservative state, the only reason why McCain won was that the conservatives were split into three different groups. The majority voted for Huckabee. The others voted for mostly Romney and Thompson. The conservvatives voted for Huckabee (most conservate), Thompson (less conservative than Huckabee, but more conservative than Romney), and Romney (the least conservative of the three). McCain is a moderate Republican, one of the very few Republicans I liked. In fact, if he had the Republican nomination in 2004, I would have voted for McCain wihtout hesitation. I thought Kerry was a flip-flop and did not concentrate on the economy enough. I only voted for Kerry as an anti-Bush vote. I am an almost hardline Democrat and we definitely need a Democrat in office. If we have a Republican in office again, we will be facing a very hostile world, with no allies left, eventually. The Republicans want to continue with Bush's policies. Bush had made the USA the most hated and least respected nation in the world. If he had it his way, he would have a war with Iran, which would result in a nuclear war with Russia. Russia would NOT tolerate tthe USA invade its neighbor. In my opinion, that is what Bush wants IF he had it his way!! We already are not getting along with the Russians.

    I am definitely going to vote for the winner of the Democratic Party because I believe that the Democrats want change and make the USA more respected and loved by the world again. We need a Democrat in office in November. If we have a Republican in office, expect to see the USA alone with no allies left by the time the Republicans leave power again!!

    Gary, McCain is not like Bush at all. McCain is a moderate Republican and Bush is a very conservative Republican. Remember the Republican Primaries in 2000?? Although McCain was defeated by Bush, he still did not like Bush and still does not. It is one of the reasons why I like McCain. Giuliani is also a moderate Republican and his endorsement to John McCain is not very surprising at all since they both are moderates. One thing about McCain, he can be honest, but the American people do not want honesty at all.

    Look at the election of 1984 when Mondale told the truth and was honest. He was destroyed by Reagan who lied. One of the things Reagan lied about was not raising taxes!! What did Reagan do in office?? HE RAISED TAXES!! Mondale even said he would raise taxes, but the Americans did not want to hear that. The Americans never want to know the real truth. They only want to hear that the USA is in very good shape and that everything is fine, when everything is not fine and is in very bad shape!!

    January 30, 2008 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  12. Chris

    The time has come for the Moderates.

    Above politics...Nation first!

    January 30, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Kris in AL

    McCain had to drive the "straight talk express" off the high road to get some traction on Romney. He also needed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to beat Romney by 5%.

    I wonder what would have happened if McCain HAD NOT LIED and he DIDN'T HAVE THE GOV's help????

    January 30, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. Steve

    All that matters, McCain won among REPUBLICANS. Why the media tries to diminish the victory is beyond me. Last time I checked, it's a party, not a collection of mini-parties. Before this primary, everyone was saying McCain can't win with Republicans, now that this talking point is eliminated, we move to a sub-section of Republicans to make the point. Give it up.

    BTW, your own exit polls showed that McCain was the overwhelming second choice of Huckabee supporters. What does that say?????

    January 30, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. John

    Like Hillary, he has the inside track, for the well-off, liberal or "geezer" vote, in FL., CA & NY.

    Their dilema is that the most of the country doesn't prefer them. Gonna be interesting here shortly. Obama & Romney's patience should pay off. With a clear preference of the popular vote, either could concievably run successfully as an independant, regardless of the party nomination.

    January 30, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. Eric

    McCain's only weakness, besides his age, is that he cannot excite the largest voting block of his party (Christian Conservatives). The only thing now that can get this group to the polls in large numbers is if the Democrats are stupid enough to nominate Clinton. This will bring out the conservatives in droves. She will even have her "experience" argument trumped by Sen McCain.

    I am a independant (but very Liberal) and I would hae a hard time choosing Clinton over McCain due to her divisive politics. I hope that the Democrats have the foresight to nominate Obama so they actually have a chance.

    January 30, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Lori

    McCain is a war-monger. Always has been. He'll bring back the draft. Good Luck America.

    January 30, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. Imran

    McCain is PRO – AMNESTY. His mentor is Ted Kennedy on immigration. He said that he will sign the McCain – Kennedy Amnesty Bill if it comes to his Desk as President.

    McCain voted against the TAX-CUTS. Twice.

    McCain divorced his first wife (After she was involved in a car accident) and married his "TROPHY" wife, Cindy. He was seeing Cindy even when he was married to his first wife. I think that is called CHEATING.

    McCain-Feingold is a DISASTER. It limits our rights to Free Speech.

    McCain says that we will be in the Middle-East for the next 100 years. How can he pledge that kind of committment. How can he sign up generations that are now even born for this war ? Reagan was a pragmatist. Remember what he did in Lebanon. He did not say we will be in Lebanon for 100 Years. He understood the realities on the ground.

    McCain claims to be a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution. Unfortnately he was a bad student of the Reagan Revolution.

    McChain is a Neo-Con w.r.t. the foreign policy, a Liberal when it comes to social issues, a drunk when it comes to Fiscal policies and dead when it comes to monetary policies.

    He will be a disaster for this country.

    January 30, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Jon, Atlanta

    A more moderate candidate is good for the Republican party. What is the right wing of the party going to do? Rush out and vote for Hillary? I don't think so. They could boycott, but that would be equally as stupid.

    January 30, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. David

    the FLA GOP gets it wrong with McCain. way to go. we really want this Bush clone to be POTUS. more war. amnesty. it just goes on with this guy. he's useless. unreal. the downward spiral will continue, that's a fact.

    January 30, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. Paul, New Orleans, LA


    I agree. People seem to want more government spending, endless wars, and government spying on the american people. Has anyone read the homegrown violent act (not sure if that is exact title), you can be in trouble by just thinking the government is horrible and want to change it. Also, where is the money going to comer from PEOPLE!? The country is going broke and no one seems to care at all. Well, I am voting Dr. Paul all the way so at least I have clear conscience when the country goes under.

    If you want lower federal taxes (or none if possible), less government involvement in your life, an end to the wars that will never end, fiscal responsibility, no government spying on its own citizens, end to illegal immigration..then take a look at Dr. Paul!

    January 30, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. david

    too bad it's over for republicans come nov woo yea!!

    obama 08!!!

    January 30, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Seattle Sue Seattle, Wa.

    Still at the end of the day, Hillary has about 300,000 more votes than Barack. Yes I known Barack didn't get to make an appearance or run an add in Florida. But surely you don't think the voters in Florida have not heard or seen Barack on T.V.

    January 30, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. MJ

    So John McAmnesty won the Florida primary. Here is one statistic to remember: John McAmnesty had overwhelming support from the latinos in Florida. Now, what does that tell us? Could it be that John McAmnesty's support for Amnesty for illegals had anything to do with that support.

    If you want amnesty, vote for John McCain (aka McAmnesty) because you will surely get Amnesty if he wins.

    I will vote for Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee.

    January 30, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. DR

    Ron Paul is the only true conservative left for the Republicans. He doesn't have a chance for the nomination so hopefully his influence and support will drive change with the candidates.

    January 30, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8