Voters in the Illinois Republican primary tend to see the nation's economy as stagnant or on the decline and do not want to see their party's primary come to a premature end, according to preliminary results of an exit poll conducted there.
ECONOMIC VIEWS: Most Illinois voters called the economy their top issue in choosing a candidate today, while a quarter called the deficit tops and 1 in 8 chose abortion. Nearly half of voters said the nation's economic conditions were getting worse and another third said it was staying about the same. Just 1 in 5 saw it as improving.
NOT SEEKING A QUICK END: Less than a third of those who voted Tuesday said they wanted to see the nomination campaign end quickly. Instead, most favored a long contest with their favored candidate prevailing in the end. Among the 4 in 10 voters who said they chose their candidate based on his ability to beat President Barack Obama in November, slightly more were hoping for a quick end to the contest.
ADS AND THE LATE DECIDERS: About 4 in 10 voters called campaign ads a major factor in their vote, including nearly half who made up their minds in the final days of the campaign. Overall, about a third of Illinois GOP primary voters reported making their final decision Tuesday or in the last few days.
A DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS COMPOSITION: About 4 in 10 voters were white born-again Christians, well below the levels seen in last week's primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, but above the 33 percent of Illinois GOP primary voters who were white evangelicals in the 2008 exit poll. About 4 in 10 voters were Catholic, the second highest level seen across 11 states where GOP voters were asked their religion.
STILL MOSTLY CONSERVATIVE: About 6 in 10 Illinois voters said they were backers of the tea party movement, about on par with the average in other states which have held primaries thus far. About 3 in 10 said they were strong backers of the movement. About one-quarter of voters said they are political independents; Illinois does not have party registration and the primary is open to all registered voters.
Preliminary results from the survey of 1,078 Illinois Republican voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The exit poll was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research at 35 randomly selected polling places around the state.