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CBS News early exit polls: In Alabama and Mississippi, electability is key

Seth Roberts votes in the Mississippi primary at the old National Guard Armory in Oxford, Miss. on Tuesday, March 13, 2012.
Seth Roberts votes in the Mississippi primary at the old National Guard Armory in Oxford, Miss. on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Bruce Newman,AP Photo/Oxford Eagle

Primary voters in Alabama and Mississippi say being able to defeat President Obama in 2012 is the most important quality in a Republican presidential candidate, according to CBS News early exit polls.

In Alabama, thirty-nine percent of voters said defeating Mr. Obama was the most important candidate quality; in Mississippi, 42 percent said the same thing. Both states are holding their Republican primaries on Tuesday.

The economy was the top issue for Republican voters in both states, with 57 percent of voters in Alabama and 54 percent of voters in Mississippi prioritizing it before the federal budget deficit, abortion, and illegal immigration.

In Alabama, 93 percent of voters said they were worried about the direction of the nation's economy, including 82 percent of voters, who said they were very worried.

In Mississippi, 84 percent of Republican voters said they are dissatisfied or angry about the way the federal government is working, including 40 percent who said they are angry.

In both states, about a third of voters made up their minds in the last few days. Most, however, decided on their candidate before that.

For about half of voters in both states, campaign advertising was an important factor in their vote decision. In Alabama, 48 percent of voters said it was important, and 47 percent said it was not important. In Mississippi, 51 percent said campaign ads had been an important factor, while 43 percent said they had not.

In Alabama, 47 percent of Romney's supporters said they strongly favor him; but 41 percent have reservations about him. Majorities of both Gingrich and Santorum supporters in Alabama strongly favor their candidates.

In Mississippi, just over half (51 percent) of Romney's voters said they strongly favor him. Gingrich's voters, however, are especially enthusiastic - nearly seven in 10 say strongly back him. Forty-five percent of Santorum's supporters strongly favor him, but 46 percent say they have reservations.

In Alabama, solid majorities of Romney, Santorum and Gingrich supporters say they will support the eventual Republican nominee in the fall.

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