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Religious voters in the AL and MS primary exit polls

March 15, 2012, 9:37 am | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

The exit polls in Alabama and Mississippi revealed that Rick Santorum’s strong appeal to social conservatives transcends regional differences, as does Mitt Romney’s reliance on rich voters.

In Mississippi, Santorum won a narrow plurality of evangelicals (35%, compared to Gingrich’s 32% and Romney’s 29%). It broke down almost identically in Alabama, where Santorum, Gingrich and Romney respectively winning 35%, 32% and 27% of evangelicals.

However, Santorum won voters who said candidates’ religious beliefs “matter a great deal” by 15 percentage points in Mississippi and 16 percentage points in Alabama. He also earned support from a whopping 65% of Mississippi voters and 61% of Alabama voters who said “strong moral character” was the most important candidate quality. And once again, Santorum was the runaway favorite among voters who believe abortion should always be illegal.

Once again, Romney’s strongest support came from the wealthy, winning among voters who make over $100k/yr in both Alabama in Mississippi, but coming in third among voters who make less than $50k/yr.

Given that 80% of primary voters in Mississippi and 75% of primary voters in Alabama are evangelical, and that only one quarter of voters in these states had six-figure incomes, Santorum’s victories should hardly have come as a surprise.

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