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. John in Columbus, OH

    McCain doesn't know anything about the economy. He said it. And, the guy is ANYTHING but a Conservative. He's a good soldier and an American hero, but he is not a leader.

    January 30, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Roy

    Conservatives like Romney because he is Bush-wamed-over. Neochristians like him because he has deceptively convinced them he is one of their own even though evangelicals are an anathema to his LDS leaders.

    January 30, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. Richard

    John McCain= George Bush part 2

    I will NEVER vote for John McCain.

    January 30, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. MVE

    Liberals on the left and Liberals on the right.

    McCain is a Liberal , there is very little difference between McCain and the Democrats



    January 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Willy

    "The Arizona senator beated Romney......."

    January 30, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Daisy

    From the looks of it our whole world is stupid. John McCain will just let us get worse... so will Romney. If you really want change that will help, instead of being the dependent little peons that we know most people are, vote Ron Paul. I don't like my independence being taken from me, which it already has been by our government. And you ignorant people just want to keep us all dependent on money hungry, power hungry jerks. ronpaul2008.com

    January 30, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Daisy

    Yeah it looks like we will have a democratic president. Hello more taxes. As if the government hasn't made us poor enough.

    January 30, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. JC

    If McCain wins, as a conservative I will sit out and not vote in November.

    January 30, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. jen

    Florida didn't prove that McCain can get conservative and "unite the party" as he says. Romney would have gotten MORE votes if we didn't have Hucakbee as the Ross Perot factor.

    I think it's DISGUSTING that McCain got the win after all his slmiy politics over the weekend. The reasons people don't like Romney are personal and irrelevant. The reasons to not like McCain are founded in his liberal, dishonest, and frankly slim resume.

    If the GOP doesn't wake up, we're going to miss the chance to have Mitt Romney represent us– the ONLY candidate on BOTH SIDES who can really claim to bring a true difference and ingenuity to our federal government. American's are sick of the current course and want something different than Bush. McCain can't make a case for that better than Hillary or Obama– but Romney would be able to. He is working his tail off fighting religious bigotry, little name recognition, and competing in mulitple states. He has been the most decent with respect to the other candidates– keeping it to issues, not snide remarks etc. He has shown much more character than any of them and has a transparent record of successes in cutting spending and deficits. He is honest about his change on abortion and why. It is very reasonable and I think he navigated being a conservative in a liberal state pretty well. McCain is just a democrat running in the wrong party. How is he going to be better than the dems? Only on the war– but Romney has a solid, conservative position on the war and he trunps McCain in EVERY other possible way!

    COME ON STATES– don't let this Florida thing and the media fool you. McCain can't win a Dem. They all will be competing for the same votes. Who will all the conservatives in the country vote for? We will have no one and we will start the path to socialism...

    January 30, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |

    Of course McCain beat Romney with the lib vote...surprise, surprise! He is a lib!! finally you figured it out! CNN has him as the conservative lib darling.

    He ia a lover of Clinton and people vote for him, you are going to get what you voted for and I'll be laughing all the way to the bank.


    January 30, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. Val Davydov, MA

    Rick Roberts, the conservative radio talk-show host said it best on Wednesday: "If McCain ends up being the nominee, I predict the lowest voter turnout for Republicans in my memory." This is very true – I hear a lot of people saying that.

    McCain WILL BE the nominee of the Republican party.

    McCain WILL LOSE general election in the landslide (either it's against Hillary or Obama).

    I will not be voting in November. Sorry, McCain is just not the right person to lead our country into the future. He's been in Washington for quarter of a century. Has anything changed?

    January 30, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. kathe Oakland Ca

    I guess if it is war you want McCain is the man. But I certainly do not look forward to my grandchild fighting in a war that never should have been just because McCain was a soldier. So what, there are many, many VETS, why don't they run for President I bet not many of them would be in favor of staying in a money hungry war and forsaking the American people and their needs.

    Lord, help us if McCain wins my grandchildren and theirs will pay the price by dying, getting manned and being away from their loved ones for what????????

    WOW, all you folks do not seem to have in faith in your candidate McCain winning this election overall – what's wrong pick wrong person.
    Go Hucklebee

    January 30, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Chris

    Exactly. And most of the media also supported the democrats in 2004. But, I'm quite sure that Mitt Romney will make it, because he is the one the US need right now. He'll FINISH the war in Iraq and won't STOP it, he will not raise taxes and put major priorities on homeland security and a strong economy. If you want a strong America, vote for Mitt.

    January 30, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Charles Ray

    I am a regestered republican, but if John McCain gets the nomination I plan to switch to an independant. I refuse to vote for a liberal democrat posing as a conservative republican. If I am going to have to vote for a liberal then it will be for Obama, At least this way I will know what I am getting when I vote. If John McCain ends up the face of the republican party, then I want nothing to do with the party.
    I have not voted for a democrat since Jimmy Carter ran for office, and one term was enough for the peanut man. I will support anyone other than McCain. Yes, even Clinton, and this thought really makes me sick.

    January 30, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. RightyTighty

    Real conservative don't "sit out" anything..

    January 30, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Justin

    How are we defining "conservatives"? Looks like the church-goers voted for Romney...

    January 30, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. BRAD

    Hillary & Mccain, there are the Ticket , both democrats,

    January 30, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. America Forever

    You got what you wanted CNN. I victory for the liberals. You know that is McCain gets in, most of us are voting Obama....also your first choice. You win....sneaky tactics....
    McCain disgusts me. He will bring this country to it's knees faster than Hillary.

    January 30, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Joe, Midlothian, VA

    So the hard-core conservatives might stay home rather than vote for McCain? Yeah, right. But if they really were to sit-out 08, who better to disenfranchise than a collection of mouth-breathing bigots, gun-nuts and know nothings. Go John, go. You earned this shot lying broken on the floor of a Hanoi prison cell. Bravo Zulu.

    January 30, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. GC

    Gov. Mitt ROMNEY is the Republican Party nominee. His conservative approach, innovation and solutions to our problems including the economy, immigration and war on terror will rise to the top. His integrity, morals and ethics are above reproach and greatly needed in the White House. America needs a person of this caliber as President.

    We do not need someone that tells false stories and twist the facts to make himself look better just because he was scared he was getting beat.

    Gov ROMNEY leads by example, just look at his family and children. They are with him and helping their father and have the same ideals.

    Gov. ROMNEY will defeat either Obama or Clinton.

    McCain is a veteran and seasoned senator, however not the choice for President.

    Wake up America, the nominee is ROMNEY!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Virginia Mann in Jax

    I don't care which way you put it or how many states he wins, if you put McCain on a ticket against Hillary or Obama and it means that true conservatives have no good options. I might just write in George W Bush.

    January 30, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Scott, Cincinnati

    My heart goes out to all of the conservatives out their wondering how they will survive. No, I'm not a conservative, I said my heart goes out to them – if I was a conservative, I wouldn't have a heart now would I. But seriously, isn't it time we stop all of this name calling and separating people into little groups that have no real power. How about this moving forward, when we start focusing on how to fix this country and the economy, we will consider ALL angles and not just those that concern or benifit the party in power.

    January 30, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Art H

    Making McCain the republican nominee, is a sure-fire way to ensure a Hillary presidency.

    The conservatives are turned off equally by both of these people and will disgustedly simply stay at home, than vote for McCain. Not even their dislike for Hillary will persuade them to make the trek to the polling booth.

    Good for the democratic party.

    January 30, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. TJ


    January 30, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Evelyn Hall

    Romney is a good person because he's a devout Mormon but I resigned from the Mormon Church back in 1993 because of the control the church members have been put on them. Only 20 % of the members are "worthy" enough to attend the Mormon Temples and our Bishop always told us that we had to pay our "fire insurance" which means 10 % tithing plus money to build temples, etc. so we could stay out of hell. The Mormon prophets make the rules and the members have to abide. To me and my husband who were devout members for 32 years, we felt like we were in a cult. so we left. All of our children and grandchildren, however, are still Mormons. So we kind of worry if the Mormon prophet and the General Authorities might try to "help" Mitt by "advising him" on how to run our government. I just don't trust them.

    January 30, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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