The top issues influencing voters in South Carolina and Nevada

WASHINGTON — Older women turned out in force to support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Nevada’s caucuses, even as she continued to struggle to gain the support of younger women, according to entrance polls conducted as Democrats arrived at caucus sites Saturday.

In South Carolina, terrorism was the top issue for Republican primary voters, and three-quarters supported temporarily banning non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States, according to exit polls.

Here is a closer look at Democratic caucus-goers in Nevada and Republican primary voters in South Carolina:


In Nevada, women were more likely to support Clinton and men to support Sanders. Sanders gained the support of 7 in 10 caucus attendees under 45 and Clinton of two-thirds of those age 45 and over. About two-thirds of Nevada caucus-goers were at least 45.

Seven in 10 women under 45 supported Sanders. But two-thirds of caucus-going women were 45 and over, and 7 in 10 of them supported Clinton.

A large majority of black caucus-goers supported Clinton, while whites and Hispanics were more evenly divided.


As was the case for caucus-goers in Iowa and primary voters in New Hampshire, Nevada caucus-goers who cared most about voting for a candidate who’s honest and trustworthy or one who cares about people like them overwhelmingly supported Sanders, while whose looking for experience or electability overwhelmingly backed Clinton.

Caucus-goers were about evenly split between whether they most prefer a candidate with experience, one who’s honest or one who cares about people like them, and were slightly less likely to say it’s most important to have a candidate who can win in November.


The top issues named by caucus-goers in Nevada were the economy, followed by income inequality and then health care, according to the entrance poll. A majority of those who said the economy was their top issue supported Clinton, as did most of those who said the top issue was health care. Those who named income inequality tended to support Sanders.

About half of caucus attendees said they think the next president should generally continue President Barack Obama’s policies, while about 4 in 10 said they want the next president to have more liberal policies. Among those who wanted a continuation of Obama’s policies, most came to support Clinton. Among those who want more liberal policies, most support Sanders.

Caucus-goers were slightly more likely to say they preferred Clinton than Sanders to handle Supreme Court nominations.

Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump celebrate the close of the polls as they watch election results at a rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina February 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX27V2E

Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump celebrate the close of the polls as they watch election results at a rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina February 20, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


Terrorism is the issue that mattered most to Republican primary voters in South Carolina, according to early results of exit poll in the state. It was selected by about a third of voters, while the economy and government spending were each picked by nearly 3 in 10. Three-quarters of voters also said they were very worried about the direction of the nation’s economy.

Just over half said immigrants who are living in the country illegally should be offered a chance to apply for legal status and about 4 in 10 said they should be deported back to their country of origin.

There is no such division among the Republicans on the issue of allowing Muslims into the country. About three-quarters support a temporary ban on Muslims who are not American citizens from entering the United States.

Less than 10 percent of the voters in South Carolina on Saturday have a positive impression about the efforts of the federal government. About half said they were disappointed and 4 in 10 said they were angry about how Washington is working. More than half said they felt betrayed by politicians in the Republican Party.


About 4 in 10 voters in South Carolina said “shares my values” was the most important quality they’re looking for in a candidate. Electing someone who can bring change was most important to nearly 3 in 10. Less than 20 percent selected either electability in November or “tells it like it is.”

Three-quarters of voters described themselves as born-again Christians, after 65 percent of South Carolina primary voters said that in 2012.

And nearly half of all voters said it mattered a great deal that a candidate shares their religious beliefs, more than the 26 percent who said so in 2012.

The voters are split on whether the next president should be an outsider or a member of the political establishment. Nearly half said they prefer someone who has experience in politics and about the same number would rather see someone from outside the political establishment.


The surveys were conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as Republican voters left their polling places at 35 randomly selected sites in South Carolina and as Democratic voters arrived at 25 randomly selected caucus sites in Nevada. In Nevada, the results include interviews with 1,024 Democratic caucus-goers and have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. In South Carolina, the preliminary results include interviews with 1,599 Republican primary voters and have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.