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Super Tuesday exit polls: Highlights from the race

Texas a tight race between Biden and Sanders

The results of the Super Tuesday primaries show that voters are now largely focused on two main candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. CBS News surveys of voters leaving the polls highlight some of the key strengths of each candidate.

Age and new voters

In CBS News exit polls, 48% of those under 45 years of age cast a ballot for Sanders, compared to only 17% for Biden. Among those 45 or older, 40% favored Biden, versus only 18% for Sanders.

A staple argument made by Bernie Sanders has been that he can beat President Trump in November in part because he will bring new voters to the polls. He has claimed that his campaign "can bring millions of people into the political process who normally do not vote."  

While his support among young voters was strong, voters who said this was their first primary — in other words, new voters — often did not make up any larger share of voters this year than they did in the same states in 2016. 

For example, in Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia, new voters made up a slightly smaller proportion of total voters than they did four years ago. And while new voters usually sided with Sanders over Biden, this was not universally true. In Alabama and Virginia, new voters actually favored Biden over Sanders.

Race

One of Sanders's most supportive groups was Hispanic voters. Across all the states, 45% of Hispanics cast a ballot for Sanders, while only 23% supported Biden. This represents somewhat of a reversal from 2016, when Hispanic voters generally sided with Hillary Clinton over Sanders.

Black voters, however, strongly supported Biden, helping spur his wins in states across the south with large black populations. Overall, nearly 55% of blacks cast a ballot for Biden, compared to only about 17% for Sanders. 

White voters split fairly evenly between Sanders (28%) and Biden (30%).

Late deciders

Almost 30% of Super Tuesday voters said they didn't make a decision until the last few days before the election. During this time, Biden surged with a strong showing in South Carolina and endorsements from two of his formal rivals for the nomination, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Not surprisingly then, Biden was the clear favorite among late deciders, garnering 46% of their votes, compared to 18% for Sanders.

Note: The data cited in this article are from the 12 out of 14 Super Tuesday states that had exit polls, and the article has been update to reflect data as of 2:30 a.m. ET, March 4.

About the author: David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York.

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