Just 4 out of 10 voters strongly favor their candidate, exit polls show

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Voters look over their ballots at a fire station while a crew leaves on an emergency call during the U.S. presidential election in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX2SMN2

Voters look over their ballots at a fire station while a crew leaves on an emergency call during the U.S. presidential election in Arlington, Virginia, on Nov. 8, 2016. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Americans held their noses and picked a new president on Tuesday: More than half of voters cast their ballots with reservations about their candidate or because they disliked the others running.

That was true both for those backing Democrat Hillary Clinton and those supporting Republican Donald Trump, according to preliminary results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

After a long, hard-fought campaign, just 4 out of 10 voters strongly favored their candidate.

That’s a shift from 2012, when about two-thirds of voters said they were voting because they strongly favored their candidate.

Other findings from the exit poll:

ABOUT THAT WALL

After all the talk during the campaign about immigration, it turned out to be a low priority for most voters: Just 1 in 10 voters said immigration was the most important issue facing the country.

As for Trump’s plan to build a “big, beautiful” wall, more than half of voters opposed the idea.

Further, 7 in 10 Americans thought immigrants now in the country illegally should be allowed to stay, and just a quarter thought they should be deported. That despite Trump’s tough talk about removing those who are in the country illegally.

Immigration was the top issue for about a fifth of Trump voters and less than 1 in 10 Clinton voters. Twenty percent of Hispanics chose immigration as the top issue. Only about 10 percent of other voters picked it as the No. 1 issue.

The economy was the top issue for both Trump and Clinton supporters.

SPLIT VIEWS ON ACCURACY OF VOTE COUNT

After all of Trump’s talk about a “rigged” election, most Americans went to the polls with at least a moderate amount of confidence that their votes would be counted accurately.

Those who cast ballots for Clinton were far more likely to feel very confident about the accuracy of the vote: About 7 in 10 Clinton voters felt very confident in the count, compared with about 3 in 10 Trump voters.

Overall, about half of voters felt very confident in the vote count, and a third were somewhat confident.

Less than 2 in 10 said they weren’t very confident or were not at all confident in the vote count.

In 2004 and 2008, voters were only slightly more certain about the accuracy of the vote count. About half of voters were very confident in the count, and 4 in 10 were somewhat confident.

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The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research with 15,445 voters as they left their polling places at 350 randomly selected sites throughout the United States supplemented by 4,404 telephone interviews with mail, early and absentee voters. The results among all those voting have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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