WASHINGTON—Americans held their noses as they picked a new president on Tuesday: More than half of voters cast their ballots with reservations about their candidate or because they disliked the others running.
That was true both for those backing Democrat Hillary Clinton and those supporting Republican Donald Trump, according to preliminary results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.
After a long, hard-fought campaign, just 4 out of 10 voters strongly favored their candidate.
That’s a marked shift from 2012, when about two-thirds of voters said they were voting because they strongly favored their candidate.
The prospect of a Clinton or Trump victory was downright scary to plenty of voters: Seven in 10 Clinton voters said they’d feel scared by Trump victory; 6 in 10 Trump voters felt the same about a Clinton win.
Other findings from the exit poll:
WOMEN’S ISSUES VS. EMAIL ISSUES
After all of the sound and fury over Trump’s treatment of women, it turned out the issue bothered half of all voters a lot — and women were more concerned about it than men.
About 6 in 10 women were bothered a lot, compared to about 4 in 10 men, the exit poll found.
The partisan divide on the issue was stark: More than 8 in 10 Clinton voters were bothered a lot by the GOP candidate’s treatment of women, compared to about 1 in 10 Trump voters.
It turned out voters were somewhat less concerned about Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
That issue mattered a lot to about four in 10 voters, including about 9 in 10 Trump voters. Less than 1 in 10 Clinton’s supporters were bothered a lot.
Older voters were more inclined to say they were bothered by Clinton’s email issue: About half of voters age 50 and older were bothered a lot, compared with about 4 in 10 younger voters.
TO BE HONEST …
Neither Trump nor Clinton gets bragging rights when it comes to honesty.
About 6 out of 10 voters said they don’t view Clinton as honest and about the same share felt the same way about Trump.
Does anyone think both of these candidates are honest? That number was in single digits.
Opinions were more mixed on the question of temperament.
More than half of Americans said Clinton had the temperament to be president and about a third felt the same about Trump.
ABOUT THAT WALL
After all the talk during the campaign about immigration, it turned out to be a low priority for most voters: Just 1 in 10 voters said immigration was the most important issue facing the country.
As for Trump’s plan to build a “big, beautiful” wall, more than half of voters opposed the idea.
Further, 7 in 10 Americans thought immigrants now in the country illegally should be allowed to stay, and just a quarter thought they should be deported. That despite Trump’s tough talk about removing those who are in the country illegally.
Immigration was the top issue for about a fifth of Trump voters and less than 1 in 10 Clinton voters. Twenty percent of Hispanics chose immigration as the top issue. Only about 10 percent of other voters picked it as the No. 1 issue.
The economy was the top issue for both Trump and Clinton supporters.
In three tightly fought Southern states, vast divides by race, gender and education kept the presidential race close shortly after polls closed.
In Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina, about 9 in 10 black voters and most Hispanics backed Clinton, while most whites backed Trump, according to the exit polls.
In Georgia, majorities of whites with and without college degrees backed Trump. A similar pattern emerged in North Carolina. In Virginia, those two groups diverged: Whites without a college degree backed Trump by a large margin, while those with a college degree split their votes between Trump and Clinton.
Women in all three states were far more likely than men to back Clinton. Majorities of women in Virginia and Georgia said Trump’s treatment of women bothered them a lot. That question was not asked in North Carolina.
SPLIT VIEWS ON ACCURACY OF VOTE COUNT
After all of Trump’s talk about a “rigged” election, most Americans went to the polls with at least a moderate amount of confidence that their votes would be counted accurately.
Those who cast ballots for Clinton were far more likely to feel very confident about the accuracy of the vote: About 7 in 10 Clinton voters felt very confident in the count, compared with about 3 in 10 Trump voters.
Overall, about half of voters felt very confident in the vote count, and a third were somewhat confident.
Less than 2 in 10 said they weren’t very confident or were not at all confident in the vote count.
In 2004 and 2008, voters were only slightly more certain about the accuracy of the vote count. About half of voters were very confident in the count, and 4 in 10 were somewhat confident.