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. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This could not bode well for McCain if people who consider themselves as conservatives won't vote for him. Could that doom a chance for McCain in other primaries or if he wins the nomination? It is possible. I just am surprised that there is only one mention of Ron Paul who is beyond being conservative. He is really a Libertarian that just wants to remove us from the world (or at least the government).

    I don't think that this is totally good news for Romney. There are some who still aren't convinced that he is a conservative. What would he have to do to convince the voting public that he is a conservative? It might be too much.

    January 30, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Roger from MA

    Can any of you REAL Conservatives explain to me how Romney's past support for socialized medicine and abortions,as well as his apathy towards gay marriage, makes him the true Conservative? Mr. John McCain opposes all of these things, and always has, unlike Mr. Flip-flopper.

    Or are you guys the multimillionaire Young Replublican conservatives, and not the southern baptist bible belt ones?

    January 30, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Anne

    Hey, Romney, make John McAmnesty tell the truth about his support for Amnesty at the debate.

    Don't let him double talk or squirm out of giving a direct answer. You have to take the fight to John McAmnesty.

    If John McAmnesty is the candidate for the republicans, he will take his party down in flames.

    January 30, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Nicole

    GC wrote "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. "

    Didn't Romney tell a story on Meet the Press about his father marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. Hmmm! Not saying its false but it looks like politicians will be politicians.

    Perhaps the lack of viability for a "conservative candidate" tells you where the country is heading. To all you conservatives, how does it feel to be powerless in the electoral process? Don't get your knickers in a twist, you all will manage.

    January 30, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Rand

    So called Conservative voters have only one true conservative candidate in this race, but they can't tell who it is because when Neo-Cons pose as Conservatives the conservative's voters brain does not function. There are a huge differences beteween Neo-Cons and pure bred Conservatives of the Reagan tradition, it is too bad that voters have no clue and fail to recognize the true conservative candidate. Look at the record of each guy in keeping government small and out of your back, look at who has oppossed tax increases in all forms ( this includes state fees), look at who receives more money from on duty military service personnel, look at who who will make sure America will not be the policeman of the world, or engage in nation building , who seal our borders and address illegal Immigration , and effectively pure the terror war in Afghanistan because he did vote and supports that effort.

    January 30, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Virginia Mann in Jax

    Even though I'm not a Romney supporter, I would admitt he would probably fair a little bit better than McCain in a national poll but either way it wouldn't matter, neither one is a true conservative. Romney is a flip flopper on true conservative issues and Mccain has sided with the dems and against his own party on almost every political issue on record but the war, and he even joined them in his complaints on that. Giving the conservatives a choice between Romney and McCain is like asking us to choose between I guy that we don't like and don't feel we can trust and a guy who we can trust will not do what we like either way we go we're screwed.

    So much for the so called supperior wit of the Democrats, by taking away the delegates in Florida in the primaries they just both disinfranchised over a million voters in Florida and took away what may have been vital deligates that could have helped decide a for runner in their race. Smart move there Dems, its no wonder that the party is represented by a donkey. Just one question for ya just who was this supposed be hurting the citizens of Florida or the canidates. Either way stupidity just caused Hillary some deligates. No wonder Bills been so mad lately

    January 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Daisy

    To Scott:
    Being conservative doesn't mean you don't have a heart. Shoot I don't even know what conservative is and I'm a republican. I can say I have a heart. I just don't think I should have to support all the poor people that are on welfare popping out children left and right to get more money. I don't think that I should have to take care of the world when I can barely support myself. If we didn't have to support the world through taxes we would be able to support ourselves. ronpaul2008.com

    January 30, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. The liberal Media, St. Joseph, MI

    Romney represents everything people fear and lothe about our government: special interests, tax breaks for the rich, not accepting Iraq was an error, non-disclosure, needing to talk to lawyers before making decisions, and being completely fake. The only people pushing Romney are the radio talk shows who ultimately report to Romney with the buyout of Clearchannel. People aren't that stupid, not even Bush voters.

    January 30, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Burt withought Ernie

    I can't believe people really get into the presidential debate like ya'll do. These guys will blantly lie to their own families to get what they want. But you bloggers are going to change the minds of millions. Idiots

    January 30, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Dan

    Why does CNN take so long to post by Blogs? Is it perhaps because I raise pretty valid points that require several hours of contemplation of whether or not they should let the viewing public read my sentences that actually make sense???
    C'mon CNN – what about the freedom of speech!?, and not the freedom of speech, only if you let people view it!?

    January 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. BA from Las Vegas

    McCain won on the notion that “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” McCain was behind all kinds of dirty politics in Florida. Is that really who we want in the White House? Romney didn’t start with the negative ads. In fact he didn’t have to use any lies or twisted wording to go against McCain. He used McCains own words and record. McCain has another political agenda in mind. He is surrounding himself with Democrats that he is going to have to repay in political favors. Does anyone notice that when McCain is asked a question that he is not comfortable with that he does the whole name dropping thing? The American conservative republican would like to ask two favors. First, Gov. Huckabee, please get out of the race. McCain is not a conservative like you are. You can’t possibly want liberialism in the white house. If you did, you wouldn’t have run. Do the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do. Second, Gov. Schwarzenegger please don’t endorse McCain. He is so dishonest and has absolutely no morals. Don’t ruin your good name by putting it on his ticket. It would be better for you to remain neutral. California is in an economic crisis. It’s success is huge to the American economy. Romney knows that and I am sure California will be a priority to him once elected. Get behind somebody who is honest and knows what he’s talking about. Let this race be about what you know, not who you know. Vote Romney!

    January 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Max Power, Springfeild

    GC you are delusional. What is a conservative approach and how is that a good thing? Does W have a conservative approach? Because if you say he does then how can that be a good thing? Name one good thing W has done in office? Stumped? Me too.
    If the only good quality you can for someone is their apparent "conservative approach", I suggest you delve a little deeper into the candidates and find out what issues they stand for and not base your choice on a generic term like "conservative approach".
    If a very smart and capable person with a "liberal approach" actually had ideas that you deemed to be good, would you vote for them? Or would you continue to wallow in your ignorance and vote for a moron with no ideas and no vision but had a "conservative approach". If your answers were no and yes, respectively, to those questions you shouldn't be allowed to vote. In fact, you should be tried for treason for not having the best wishes of your country in mind. You would in fact be complicit in harming the USA because you have the foreknowledge to act differently.
    The revolution will be televised.

    January 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Christopher

    Romney can't win, McCain can.

    So if McCain wins the nomination and you're a conservative and you don't vote because you think McCain is liberal ... then you have cast a vote for the Democrats. Abstaining in this case is equivalent to voting for the Democrats.

    Even if you don't like McCain, the fact is – if he's the nominee – if you don't vote, then you HAVE voted.

    January 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |

    BOTH McCain and Obama are both for amnesty, don't you see Kennedy conspiracy?

    January 30, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Curly

    I'm a registered independent who thinks very little of political orators who will say only what they "think" they should say. Mavericks like Ron Paul offer very interesting ideas to shake up Washington, but if elected, they would be shut down by the system and get nothing done. Professional politicians like Hillary would fit right in but never have the courage to risk political fallout by doing something unpopular. I want a representative to do what he/she feels is in the best interest of the country regardless of what his/her party expects. McCain to me is the best combination of experience with the courage to go against his party when need be.

    It amazes me when both side speak as if the other party has no intelligent thoughts. Hey all you party members who vote straight party – Baaahh Baahhh.

    January 30, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    huckabee whats a huckabee lol

    January 30, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  17. Dotty Ann Brown

    Has everyone gone mad???? Where are the people and the candidates who honor the law of our land? These liberals want to change our country so that the illegals take over and more babies die and taxes are increased, etc. Has no one a conscience any more? Doesn't anyone care that illegals are taking over and getting our benefits and robbing us of our tax money?

    We need a candidate who will look out for the America our Founding Fathers so proudly and honorably handed us. We need to get back to those conservative and righteous roots that made our county strong and desirable. Now, it is just a mess! Give up the laws of God and the laws of the land and what do you have? We will have chaos and a society that will fall apart. It is not the war outside of us that will destroy us but this war within it. All the civilations in the past that fell, fell because they were contaminated from within. We are on the same track. Allow a candidate to come into power who ignores our God-given responsibilities and he will put an end to our civilization.

    I am a Christian and proud of it. No matter what happens, the one thing I know is that the Good Lord will come and put an end to this rebellion against Him and His laws. The liberals may not answer now but I guarantee they WILL answer!

    Let's get someone in office who cares about the law of God; the only ture law of any nation! Bush has disappoointed me too but that doesn't mean there isn't someone out there who does care about the common man and God's will. Putting a liberal in office because we are dissatisfied with Bush is not the answer. You can't mix politics and money and that is just what Bush is: a man who cares about money and how to get more of it and to benefit the other money hungry jerks!

    Let's all grow up and act like the responsible and conscientious people we are supposed to be here in this so-called honorable country! I am sick and tired of all the fighting and mendacity of all of these candidates! They need to stop acting like children! We need a candidate who will act like an adult! What kind of a leader will any of these adolescent candidates make if they can't even get along now? Why, they are nothing but immature brats!!!!!

    Someone please step up to the plate who is a grown-up!!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. NewPatriot-Arizona

    It will be interesting to watch the California GOP debate to see 3 contenders against the Real Republican Ron Paul !

    January 30, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. Cliff Baker

    Imagine the following nightmare scenario for the extremist Republican: the Clintons will occupy the White House for the next 16 years.

    Hillary in the White House from 2008-2016. And by 2016 Chelsea will be 36 years old (35 min. is the age requirement for ).

    To my dear extremist Republican, history is in the making. You all will witness the FIRST woman to become president, the FIRST husband and wife to become president, and the FIRST father, mother and daughter to become president.

    Hillary 08
    Hillary 12
    Chelsea 16
    Chelsea 20

    Go Hillary! Go Chelsea!

    January 30, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. JDC

    Without conservative support, McCain is wasting his time. He is NOT conservative and I wouldn't vote for him for dogcatcher. He supports amnesty,
    won't cut taxes,supports gun control, etc. IF HE GETS THE NOMINATION, he will not be elected. A sure loser!

    January 30, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Walt, Belton, TX

    Another excellent reason to vote for John McCain!

    January 30, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. mr.smith

    Wake up Christians for Romney. How can any Christian who is serious about Eternity support Mitt Romney? Why would you want to legitimize Mormonism and possibly send non-believers who buy into the President's religion to Hell for eternity? The reason Romney is not getting all of the conservative votes even with the backing of a lot of the major Radio show hosts, is that there are Christians who are thinking about the big picture and not selling out their beliefs and people's souls for their political party. Romney will not win because of this. Rush says that the other candidates in the race are stealing Romney's votes and in turn teaming up to give McCain these victories.Well if you don't want McCain to win then support somebody other than Romney. Because he will not solidify the conservative vote.

    January 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. TimM

    One small correction – No one has 'won' Florida in the fact that none of the delegates have actually been awarded:

    "contrary to the impression you may be getting from the mainstream media, no national delegates have yet been won in Florida. Those delegates will only be awarded between February 6 and April 30 at delegate selection caucuses"

    This might be a case of John counting his delegates before they are committed.

    TimM Missouri

    January 30, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Jim , Houston

    Romney and the So Called Conservatives deserve each other!

    January 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. Jody

    If you're truly covering the run for the White House, wouldn't you also include Mike Huckabee? He IS still in this, you know? You act like it will be a debate of only TWO tonight in CA! Why don't you all actually give Huckabee some time to talk tonight? Liberal media in a rush to force THEIR choice for President on Americans. Typical.

    January 30, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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