Super Tuesday exit polls and analysis for the 2024 primaries

Note: Percentages may update as CBS News collects more data.

Voters in over a dozen states are weighing in across the country in the 2024 Super Tuesday primary contests and will deliver the largest number of delegates available on any single day during the presidential primary campaign. Here’s a look at what was on the minds of some of the GOP Super Tuesday primary voters today, according to CBS News exit polls in California, Virginia and North Carolina.

Super Tuesday exit polls in California 

Donald Trump scored a commanding win in California, winning men, women, both White and non-White voters, both moderates and conservatives, both Republicans and independents and voters of all age groups and education levels. 

The California electorate differed in some ways from that of North Carolina and Virginia, the other two states where exit polls were conducted. Unlike them, a sizable proportion of the California electorate was made up of fewer White voters (about a fifth of the electorate was Latino), but Trump won handily among both White and non-White voters alike.

About a third of voters identified as independents — similar to what was seen in both Virginia and North Carolina — but in this closed primary, these self-identified independents had to be registered as Republicans, and they voted for Trump in large numbers.

Voters in Virginia think Trump likely to defeat Biden

Looking ahead to the general election in November, most Republican primary voters in Virginia think Donald is very likely to defeat Joe Biden. In contrast, just one in five say the same for Nikki Haley.

This perception contrasts with the latest CBS News national poll, which gives Haley a 9-point advantage over Mr. Biden among likely voters if the election were held today. In contrast, Trump enjoys just a 4-point advantage.

One reason may be that many Republican primary voters don’t think Trump lost the last election. Fewer than half think Mr. Biden is the legitimate winner of the 2020 election, something we also see in North Carolina as well.

Super Tuesday exit polls in North Carolina show Trump wins widespread, strong support 

In North Carolina, where Trump was projected to win a little over half an hour after polls closed, the former president had widespread, strong support across demographic groups, according to CBS News exit polls. He won majorities of both men and women and also younger and older voters.

The Republican base heavily backed Trump, who won eight in 10 of the state’s evangelical voters. He captured nearly nine in 10 of those who say they are “very conservative.”

White voters with a college degree overwhelmingly backed him. About four in 10 North Carolina primary voters call themselves part of the MAGA movement, and Trump overwhelmingly won those voters. 

He even won over 40% of voters who did not identify as MAGA.

Throughout the GOP primary campaign, voters have been looking for a candidate who shares their values and would fight for people like them, and Trump bested Haley among these groups. This is true for every contest so far where exit polls have been conducted. 

Immigration was the top issue for North Carolina voters and those who picked it went big for Trump. 

Haley defeats Trump among moderates

Haley did defeat Trump among moderates. She ran pretty well among independents and with voters with college degrees, although she didn’t win them outright. This wasn’t enough to push her ahead of Trump. 

Super Tuesday exit polls in Virginia show Trump won primary with support of most key GOP demographic groups

CBS News projected that Trump won the Virginia less than a half hour after polls closed, and exit polls show he won the support of most key demographic groups in the Virginia Republican primary.

As has been the case throughout the primaries, Trump captured Virginia with the support of the components of the Republican Party, most of whom had made up their minds to vote for him last year before any of the primary contests had begun.

Conservative voters and White evangelicals strongly backed him, as did voters without college degrees. He also won majorities of both men and women, both White and non-White voters, and among voters of all age groups.

But Virginia is an open primary, so many non-Republicans may vote. Four in 10 voters identified as either independent or as Democrats, and a third identify as either moderate or liberal: these groups voted strongly for Nikki Haley.

One in five voters in Virginia had never cast a vote in a Republican primary before. Most of these voters do not identify as Republicans either, and they were voting for Haley.

More than eight in 10 Trump voters in Virginia said their vote today was mainly for Trump. But Haley supporters, most of whom identify as either independents or Democrats, expressed more of an anti-Trump sentiment: Six in 10 say their vote was mainly against Trump, rather than for Haley.

What does the GOP primary electorate look like in these states?

MAGA: We see fewer who call themselves part of the MAGA movement in Virginia than in North Carolina.

Party affiliation

There is no party registration in Virginia, so the primary is open to all voters. 

In Virginia, about one in 10 voters in the GOP primary identify as Democrats, higher than we’ve seen in states where exit polls have been conducted during the primaries so far. 

Independents

They are making up about three in 10 voters today in North Carolina and Virginia, which is similar to 2016 percentages. In 2016, 29% of Virginia voters were independents, and there were 30% in North Carolina.

Evangelicals

In North Carolina, just over half of voters are White evangelicals; there are fewer in the GOP electorate in Virginia and California.

Education

There are also more voters with college degrees in Virginia than in North Carolina.

Party ID of Haley voters and Trump voters?

As in previous contests, much of Haley’s support comes from voters who are not Republican. In Virginia,  this is particularly striking. Republicans make up just a third of those voting for her in that state. 

In Virginia, about a quarter of Haley’s supporters are Democrats.

In North Carolina, most of her supporters are independents.

In contrast, three in four of Trump’s supporters in these two states identify as Republicans.

Trump, Haley voters looking for different candidate traits

Trump and Haley voters are looking for different traits in a candidate, CBS News exit polling shows.

We’ve seen this play out in the earlier contests, and it’s the same in Virginia, North Carolina and California. 

Voters supporting former President Donald Trump want someone who will fight for people like them, while those who support former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley want someone who either shares their values or has the right temperament. 

Immigration and the economy continue to be top of mind for Republican voters

Immigration and the economy are the top issues on voters’ minds.

When asked to pick from a list of four issues, the economy and immigration have outranked abortion and foreign policy in every state where exit polls have been conducted so far.

These issues are also important to voters overall nationwide. 

Handling the issues: The economy, the border, international crisis

Trump has a big advantage over Haley on whom primary voters trust to handle the economy and border security. And he also leads Haley on who would better handle an international crisis.

Abortion: Some division within GOP electorate on national abortion ban

We see some differences in the states where we’ve polled on views of a national ban on abortion in all or most cases. 

In California and especially in Virginia, a clear majority of Republican primary voters oppose a ban. In North Carolina, Republican primary voters are more divided. (In New Hampshire, most GOP primary voters also opposed such a ban)

Most voters reject charge that Trump is mentally unfit for office

Haley has questioned Trump’s mental fitness for office, but it isn’t resonating with most voters, although Haley voters do not think Trump has the mental and physical health needed to serve, and Trump voters say the same about Haley. 

GOP primary voters disapprove strongly of Biden and are dissatisfied with the state of the country. 

Big majorities of Republican primary voters disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president, with far more strongly disapproving than somewhat disapproving.

And these voters are unhappy with how things are going in the country, including many who are angry. 

This feeling has persisted through this primary campaign.

What about  the “big lie?”

Majorities of primary voters in North Carolina and California do not believe Joe Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election.

This has been the case in previous contests where exit polls have been conducted.  

In Virgina, opinion is more divided. (Fewer identify as MAGA in Virginia compared to North Carolina and one in 10 voters here are Democrats) 

And most think Trump would be fit to serve even if convicted

In each of the states where exit polls have been conducted, a majority of voters have said Trump would be fit for the presidency even if convicted of a crime. And that’s the case today, too. 

In states with more moderate and independent electorates this has been a smaller majority. 

Today, in North Carolina and California, most say Trump would be fit even if convicted. 

Opinions on this are more divided in Virginia.

When did voters decide?

A majority of primary voters in Virginia and North Carolina  decided on their candidate a while ago, most even before the Iowa caucuses. Fewer than one in five made their decision in the last week.

What happens after the primaries?

Right now, based on these exit polls, most Haley voters are not committed to supporting the GOP nominee. 

Some of this sentiment existed in 2016. In states where exit polls were conducted in 2016, three in four non-Trump voters said they would be dissatisfied with Trump as their nominee. In the general election that year, nine in 10 Republicans backed Trump.

Most Trump voters — with their candidate leading handily in the race for delegates — say they would vote for the GOP nominee no matter who it is. 


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