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. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    You can't be in the Senate as long as John Mckain and not be part of the problem.

    January 30, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. JohnnyGreen

    A vote for McCain is a vote for a Democrat. Why do you think the NY times endorsed him? Have you looked at his voting record? The papers even said that McCain is loved by Hillary. If McCain gets in its going to be the same old people in different chairs. Al Gore tried and Hillary tried to change things in office when they were elected. Our CA governator said he was going to try to change the way the goverment worked. Has it? We need someone in there to clean house and I think the only two people I think could do that is Paul or Mitt.

    January 30, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Amy, Kazoo

    Clinton attended a DNC approved campaign. She didn't break the rules.
    And last time I checked, you dont need campaigning to have a race that matters. The citizens of Florida can watch debates, look the candidates up online, etc. Voters don't rely solely on campaign commercials and speeches to help them choose who to vote for. Give them more credit. She won the popular vote fair and square. This is a post about McCain anyway.

    January 30, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Mike

    Well my friends...as John would say, let me tell you that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. How do we possibly think that sending John back to Washington in the capacity of President is going to change things? His economic position is to control pork barrel spending...great John and what else? What does that mean? How have you done this in the past? You see my friends...the greatest indicator of future performance is past performance. So, if you want a liberal do nothing president...keep voting for him. I have met with members of the congress and the senate. John McCain is not well liked. They all use the same phrase to describe him..."Loose Cannon". If you are trying to sell a home, have lost money in real estate or in the market, have lost your job or you know someone who is in this situation...we owe them an apology. The real issue is our economy. John has not and can not fix this. All the military experience in the world will not change it. The committee overseeing the 2002 Olympics thought that the project was so far gone that no one could save it...save it? Romney saved it, turned it around, and made a profit! We need a Washington outsider and and economic leader...VOTE ROMNEY!

    January 30, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. GaryO Virginia Beach

    For those of you who have not figured it out yet, the news media wants to set up a showdown between Obama and McCain:

    The Black Guy vs Super Status Quo

    That combination equals drama, large audiences, and ratings. Ratings equate to high advertising revenue and profit. From the perspective of the press, it's all about money.

    The media, especially CNN, is extremely biased in favor of Obama.

    It will be interesting to see just how gullible the American public is. Will the press have its way and successfully manipulate millions of people?

    January 30, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Evangeline Wollmar


    Ron Paul is by FAR the MOST CONSERVATIVE!!!!!


    you are all acting like SHEEPLE

    January 30, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. C.P.V.

    I am a registered Republican, but if McCain gets the nomination I will vote Democrat.

    January 30, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. Sensible Cape Coral, FL 33900

    Hey, Bill from COVINGTON LA

    How do you know the number of illegals in Florida? The last time I looked , Covington was in Louisiana.. Besides, illegals don't vote because they are afraid of idiots like you who are only too willing to blame them for everything from the Boston Tea Party to the sinking of the Titanic. Remember as long as we are talking about immigration, we are NOT talking about the war in Iraq and the lousy economy.
    P.S. The illegals in Florida know more American History than you do. I teach them.

    January 30, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. Brian

    I'm a big Obama supporter, but if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, I switch to McCain (Who I have always admired) faster than anything. I think most "swing" , Independents, and "soft Democrats" would vote for McCain over Clinton. I also think the same thing for Obama over McCain/Romney, if he wins.

    If all we have is Romney vs Clinton, then I'm moving to Canada.

    January 30, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. charlotte

    If this was a beauty contest as referred to by Wolf, why didn't Romney win? Or was the Democrats the only side in a beauty contest?

    January 30, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Alice, TN

    Bonnie: Math, much less statistics, obviously wasn't your forte in school.

    January 30, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. C.P.V.

    Let me update that, if anyone but Romney gets the nomination, I will vote Democrat.

    January 30, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. candy

    McCain won due to the age of the voters in FL – McCain has had YEARS to get things done in Washington and yet people choose to think "if he's president he'll finally have the chance to get things done" – how terribly wrong that is – it will just be more of the same 'Old Boys Club' of DC that is beginning to show its true colors in the sad, unhealthy deterioration of our country

    January 30, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Marshall

    If anything the fact McCain continues to pull middle of the road voters and win is encouraging. McCain has managed to run a campaign that hasn't alienated independent voters which will make the transition from primary to general election that much easier. In the exit polls 41% of McCain's voters said they wouldn't have even voted had McCain not been on the ballot. Those are voters that have been disaffected by the current state of Republican politics and will be crucial for the general election.

    January 30, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. JAmes V McCormick McCormick

    huckabee has stayed in long enough to siphon off the pro-Romney vote–
    it's all design–that way Huckabee won So Carolin for McCain,
    and that is how McC got Florida. The cry was "A vote for Huckabee is a vote
    for McCain" and it is the first truth I've heard in Republican circles since Barry
    Goldwater said in sunshine that Nixon should get his A– our of the White House.
    Deep-down Evangelical Righteous Rightists do not like McCain–and Huckabee
    provides a way to make them useful–he siphons off their fervid fury.
    John McCain is a maverick, and the public fears him whenever the public
    bothers to think or read–and Romney may still be the man. I am a former
    Democrat gone independent since Reagan days. Sorry–but then I chose only
    because I valued his words on Abortion–I consider it murder. But there are others ways a country murders–and worthless wars for oil profit are prime examples: so
    either I stay home or avoid any marks in the presidential column. The latter
    is best–and fairly normal these days. James McCormick age 70

    January 30, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. ted

    Stop spamming your hack conservative philosophy website, michelle malkin. No one cares. you're an idiot, and your ideas are sophomoric and not even as deep as the tripe that ann coulter throws around.

    All you do is try to ride her coat tails as a conservative woman, without adding any intellectual capacity to the debate.

    January 30, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. confused

    PhillipG.: When and how has McCain lost a national campaign???

    January 30, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Christine

    Hispanics ( Miami and St Pete) chose McCain over Romney. It's not hard to guess why.

    January 30, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. SF, CA

    Bill from Covington, LA:

    Illegals cannot vote, so stop your whining!

    Hopefully this year, FL will go blue.

    January 30, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. WAL

    Florida is also a very old population which must be taken into consideration in both the Clinton and McCain wins. Clinton gets the old vote, and I wonder if that is true for McCain, who would be the oldest President ever should he win.

    January 30, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Stephanie

    The Constitution is not about separation of church and state – it is about protecting the rights of every individual in the US, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. Protection of our Constitutional rights should be priority for anyone taking public office. It should be remembered that public officials are servants and stewards in a greater scope. Humbling isn't it? – or anyway it should be. As a Christian I know who I answer to, but God gave me that choice – as He gives to others. His laws are written on my heart, not on a piece of paper!

    January 30, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Mando in Miami. FL

    John McCain will lose in the largest landslide in 50 years. Republican-Conservatives will stay home. Hillary, Obama, and McCain essenially agree on all domestic issues. This breaks my heart, but I for one can't see myself voting for this man. It would be rewarding treachery.

    January 30, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Write-In Will DePort

    In November, conservatives will choose the new third party United Patriots. We will be putting the election into the legislative process. Trust me, John McCain is not on the United Patriots ballot. Alan Keyes, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Will DePort, Daniel Gilbert, Duncan Hunter, Dana Rohrabacher, Lou Dobbs, and the list goes on.....but McCain is not welcome. He can't be a member of the "new boys club"

    January 30, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Stephanie

    The Clinton's in office?? or maybe a McCain and Guiliani ticket??? And what form of this is change? This is a true example of insanity – wanting and needing change but maintaing the status quo!!!! Scary at best!

    January 30, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. Your Daddy

    Of course conservatives voted for Romney... anyone voting for Romney must love W! Four more years! Conservatives vote to protect their wallets more than anything else, although much pretense is made about national security. Romney is the big business candidate.

    And Danny, if Romney's a liberal, if that's a negative, then maybe you should vote for a real conservative like Vladimir Putin. He knows how to get things done the old fashioned way.

    January 30, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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