Exit poll reveals what mattered to New Hampshire voters

Melissa Herrmann

The New Hampshire Democratic primary brought to the surface various issues that divided voters — frequently pitting Bernie Sanders on one side against Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar on the other.  Sanders won the state, with Buttigieg finishing second and Klobuchar third. 

Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden were unable to gain momentum in New Hampshire and neither was on pace to win delegates. Electability was an issue for voters that did not work in either Warren's or Biden's favor. Almost 30% of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters thought Biden had run the most negative campaign.

Exit polls show Democratic primary voters prioritized beating President Trump over having a candidate who agrees with them on the issues. Of the majority of voters concerned about beating Mr. Trump, their support was split between Buttigieg and Klobuchar. For voters more concerned about a candidate agreeing with them on issues, support went to Sanders.   


Another issue that separated the field was whether voters wanted a candidate who can bring needed change or one who can unite the country. Of those who said they want change, the largest share of support went to Sanders. Of those who are looking to unite, support was split between Buttigieg and Klobuchar. 

Similarly, primary voters were split between those who think the next president should return to Barack Obama's policies — a group that supported Klobuchar, followed by Buttigieg — and those who think the next president should change to more liberal policies — a group that supported Sanders. 


Top issues for Sanders

Bernie Sanders garnered the support of younger voters, people under 30 years of age. People in low-income households were also more likely to vote for Sanders. Additionally, for those voters who identified as liberal — which was 6 in 10 of the New Hampshire Democratic primary voters — tended to support Sanders. 

When asked about the issues that were most important to them, health care was cited the most, and the voters who said that tended to support Sanders. 


Those who said they support replacing private insurance with a government plan mostly voted for Sanders. Additionally, voters who cared about the issue of income inequality also strongly supported Sanders. 

Buttigieg favored for electability

Pete Buttigieg has more support among voters who prioritize electability over agreement on issues.  He has strong support among high-income households. 

Buttigieg's competitive showing in Iowa seems to have helped him in New Hampshire. Half of the New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said they made their decision in the past few days and a large share of those supported Buttigieg. 

Buttigieg also splits the moderate vote with Klobuchar. 

Older voters, college grads for Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar did well among voters aged 65 and over and among college graduates. Klobuchar also had strong support from people who regularly attend religious services.  

She split the support of moderates with Buttigieg. Similarly they split the support of people who want to return to Barack Obama's policies. 

Voters who said age is a factor in choosing a candidate divided between Klobuchar and Buttigieg. Like Buttigieg, Klobuchar had strong support among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters who made their decision in the last few days, as well as those who factored the recent debate into their decision. The debate worked heavily in Klobuchar's favor in this primary. 

About the author: Melissa Herrmann is president of SSRS, a full-service survey and market research firm.

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