Exit poll: Independents propel Sanders in West Virginia

Independents and younger voters propelled Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to a victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia Democratic primary Tuesday night, exit polls showed.

On the GOP side, presumptive nominee Donald Trump had the support of majorities of Republican voters who said they are optimistic or excited about the possibility of a Trump presidency.

Other highlights from the exit polls:

Trump’s base

Most West Virginia Republicans feel good about the possibility of a Trump presidency. About 8 in 10 say they’re excited or optimistic about what he would do, and about 9 in 10 West Virginia Republicans say they would vote for Trump in a general election matchup against Clinton. About two-thirds of GOP voters in the state say it’s very likely the billionaire would beat Clinton in West Virginia in the general election. About a quarter say it’s somewhat likely.

Democrats in name only

A third of West Virginia Democratic primary voters say they identify as independents, and nearly 7 in 10 of those voters supported Sanders. Overall, just 6 in 10 of those voting in that state’s Democratic primary say they’re Democrats. The exit polls also illuminated another bloc of voters: those who voted for Sanders on Tuesday but would abandon him if he faced Trump in November. In a Sanders-Trump general election matchup, 3 in 10 primary voters say they would support Trump. In a Trump-Clinton matchup, one-third of the primary’s voters— again mostly Sanders supporters — say they’d vote for Trump in that matchup.

Economic worries

In West Virginia, voters from both parties in Tuesday’s presidential primary are united on two things: They see the economy as the top issue facing the country, and they think trade is taking American jobs. More than half of voters in both West Virginia primaries say the economy is the top issue facing the country. About 6 in 10 voters in the Democratic primary say they’re very worried about the economy and 3 in 10 say they’re somewhat worried. About two-thirds of the state’s Republican primary voters and more than half of Democratic primary voters say trade with other countries mostly takes jobs from American workers.

In Nebraska, half of Republican primary voters say trade takes jobs, while about a third say it creates them. Still, far fewer than in West Virginia — just 3 in 10 — say the economy is the top issue facing the country. Another 3 in 10 say government spending, 2 in 10 say terrorism and 2 in 10 say immigration.

Party divide

Most West Virginia Republicans see their party as divided, but few think it will remain that way in November. Only 1 in 10 think their party is united now, but about another 6 in 10 think it will unite by November. Just 3 in 10 think it will remain divided.

In Nebraska, hardly any GOP primary voters think their party is united, and they’re less optimistic than West Virginians about that changing. More than 9 in 10 say their party is divided, and more than 4 in 10 say it will remain that way through the general election. Just under half of the state’s GOP primary voters think their party will unite by November.