Who Were Those Clinton-McCain Crossover Voters?

CBS News' Election and Survey Unit's survey analyst extraordinaire Jennifer De Pinto goes inside the exit polls from last week's election and finds some interesting nuggets about those Hillary Clinton supporters who voted for John McCain:

As voters left the polls on Election Day, many were asked how they would have voted if the election match-up were between Hillary Clinton and John McCain rather than Barack Obama and McCain. 52 percent said they would have backed the former Democratic candidate; 41 percent would have voted for McCain, wider than Obama's 7-point margin over McCain.

Interestingly, 16 percent of McCain voters said they would have voted for Clinton, the Democrat, if she had been her party's nominee.

So who were these potential cross-over voters?

  • They were older: 61% of them were age 45 and above.

  • 53% were women; while 47% were men.

  • 43% of these voters who supported McCain but would have backed Clinton if she were in the race described themselves as Independents. 31% were Republicans; while 26% were Democrats.

  • 84% of them were white – higher than the electorate at large. 12% were Hispanic, compared to 9% of the total electorate.

  • 21% of McCain voters who would have supported Clinton said race was factor in their vote. 19% of McCain voters overall said race was factor in their vote.

  • 61% of these McCain voters who would have backed Clinton earned $50K or more annually. 39% earned less. 61% do not have a college degree.

  • These voters valued experience over change. 47% said experience was their top candidate quality and 32% said a candidate who shares their values. Just 10% picked change. But like voters overall, the economy was the top issue for these voters.

  • 58% of McCain voters who would have supported Clinton if she were a candidate said their candidate's personal and leadership qualities was more important in their vote; 36% said it was their candidate's positions on the issues.

  • Among McCain backers overall, voters were divided with 48% choosing issues and 49% picking qualities. But among the electorate at large, 58% said their candidate's position on the issues was more important.

    While 85% of Obama voters said they would have voted for Clinton had she been the Democratic candidate, 13% would not have supported her including 6% who said they would have backed McCain and 7% who said they would not have voted.

  • 60% of these voters were under age 45.

  • They were mostly men. 59% were men; while 41% were women.

  • 41% of these voters who supported Obama but would not have backed Clinton if she were in the race described themselves as Democrats. 20% were Republicans; while 38% were Independents.

  • While most of these voters were white (74%); 17% were black – higher than the share of the total electorate. 5% were Hispanic.

  • 53% of these Obama voters who would not have backed Clinton earned $50K or more annually. 47% earned less. 58% do not have a college degree.

  • These voters were clearly looking for change – 57% picked it as their top candidate quality. This was followed by values (20%) and cares (12%). Experience ranked last with 8%.

  • 60% of these voters said issue positions were more important; 38% said it was leadership and personal qualities.
    • Vaughn Ververs

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