updated 2/10/2004 7:16:00 PM ET 2004-02-11T00:16:00

John Kerry attracted many voters in the Virginia Democratic primary who were angry or dissatisfied with President Bush and especially those eager for a victory in November, according to an Associated Press exit poll.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

The Massachusetts senator ran very strong among those who said the most important quality for a candidate was the ability to defeat Bush — claiming three-fourths of the voters who said that quality was most important. None of his rivals were even close among those voters — about three in 10 of all Virginia voters. Kerry also ran strong among voters who thought experience was the top quality.

“What he says seems to resonate,” 24-year-old Kristinia Dlugozima of Falls Church, Va., said in explaining her vote for Kerry. “Beating Bush is very important.

Kerry also drew strong support from Virginia voters who said health care was the top issue — just under one-fifth of all voters.


The economy and jobs were the most important issue for voters — picked by one-third. Kerry led with almost half of that group compared to one-third for rival John Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, according to the poll of 1,256 Virginia voters conducted for the AP and the television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

Kerry had the largest share of support from most voter groups, but was especially strong among black voters, who made up one-third of the Virginia electorate. Kerry had almost two-thirds of the black vote, and just under half of the white vote.

The Virginia primary gave Kerry’s campaign fodder for the argument that he could attract black voters, a key Democratic constituency. But it made a less convincing case about his ability to attract Southern whites, generally a moderate to conservative-leaning group.

Edwards gave Kerry the strongest competition among white voters, getting almost one-third of that group to Kerry’s half of that group.

Almost six in 10 Democratic voters went for Kerry, and he drew well among groups with lower incomes and less education. Among independent voters, Kerry got just over four in 10, compared with a third for Edwards, his closest rival.

Margaret Gerardin, a 41-year-old Edwards supporter from Norfolk, Va., said she decided at the last second to vote for Edwards because she feels like he is more in touch “with the common man.”

Kerry and Edwards tied among people who said it was most important to have a candidate who cares about people like them.

Wesley Clark showed more strength among Virginia voters who thought national security and the war in Iraq were top issues than he did among voters who picked other issues. Howard Dean did somewhat better among voters who said it was most important to have a candidate who stands up for what he believes.

The economy and jobs were top issues in both Virginia and Tennessee, which held primaries Tuesday. And the ability to beat Bush was a quality many voters were looking for in both states.

Here's a quick look at who turned out for Democratic primaries Tuesday and why they voted as they did:

WHO VOTED: Three-fourths of voters in the two states were 45 or older and more women than men voted in each state. About a third of the voters in Virginia were black and a fifth of the voters in Tennessee were black.

FINANCIAL SITUATION: Almost half of the voters in Tennessee said their financial situations are worse now than four years ago, while a third said that in Virginia.

POLITICAL PARTY: A fifth of voters in Tennessee and slightly more in Virginia described themselves as political independents. Seven in 10 Tennessee voters said they were Democrats and about three-fourths of Virginia voters said they were Democrats.

IDEOLOGY: More than six in 10 Tennessee voters described themselves as moderate or conservative, while six in 10 Virginia voters said they were moderate or conservative.

TIME OF DECISION: Half in Tennessee said they made their minds up in the last week, including about three in 10 who said they decided in the last three days. Almost as many, just under half of Virginia voters, said they made their minds up in the last week, including about a fourth of all voters who said they decided in the last three days.

ANGER AT BUSH: More than eight in 10 voters in both Tennessee and Virginia said they were either angry or dissatisfied with President Bush.

WAR IN IRAQ: Just over two-thirds of the voters in Tennessee and Virginia said they disapprove of the war in Iraq

TOP ISSUES: The big issues in Tennessee and Virginia were the economy and jobs, picked by almost four in 10 voters in Tennessee as the most important issue and a third in Virginia, followed in both states by health care and the war in Iraq.

CANDIDATE QUALITIES: The most important quality for Democratic primary voters in Tennessee and Virginia was having a candidate who can defeat Bush, picked by almost three in 10. Other important qualities for Tennessee and Virginia voters were having a candidate who stands up for what he believes and a candidate who cares about people like them.

The exit poll was conducted for NBC, the Associated Press and other television networks by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International among 1,920 Tennessee Democratic primary voters and 1,244 Virginia Democratic primary voters as they left precincts Tuesday.

Margin of sampling error for Tennessee was plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample, larger for subgroups. Margin of sampling error for Virginia was plus or minus 4 percentage points, larger for subgroups.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments