Debate clinched late support for Klobuchar, exit polls show
Posted February 12, 2020 12:14 a.m. EST
CNN — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar won over moderates, college-educated and older voters in the last 72 hours of the primary in New Hampshire, according to CNN exit polls, a combination that helped lift her to a solid third-place finish on Tuesday night.
The Democratic debate on Friday night proved pivotal for Klobuchar: 5 in 6 of her supporters said the debate was a factor in whom they ultimately supported, more than any other candidate.
Her climb to the top tier in New Hampshire came late in the game. Seven in 10 voters who backed Klobuchar picked a candidate just in the last few days.
Half of all New Hampshire voters made their minds just in the last 72 hours, double the number who did the same in 2016 and the most in 20 years of exit polling in the state.
Older voters also boosted her bid. Klobuchar led the field among voters over 45, drawing support from nearly 3 in 10 of that group.
She also performed well among the most educated voters in the Democratic field, leading among voters with college degrees, and her support climbed to 3 in 10 voters who have advanced degrees. Klobuchar drew 3 in 10 white college-educated women, the most of any candidate in the field.
Two-thirds of Klobuchar voters were women.
Among Klobuchar voters -- 2 in 10 -- said they believe that a woman would have an easier time beating Trump in November, while only 1 in 10 of all New Hampshire Democratic primary voters felt that way. The majority of Klobuchar supporters, around 3 in 5, say it won't make a difference.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who trailed in fourth more than 10 percentage points behind, congratulated Klobuchar in her speech on Tuesday, saying, "I also want to congratulate my friend and colleague Amy Klobuchar for showing just how wrong the pundits can be when they count a woman out."
Klobuchar earned broad support among voters who want to unite the country. Three in 10 voters who prioritized that goal chose Klobuchar, similar to former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's numbers on top of the pack.
At her speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, Klobuchar herself specifically pushed this idea, saying: "We are taking this message of unity to the country."
Most voters said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been projected as the winner in New Hampshire, was too liberal. Around 4 in 10 voters in that group supported Klobuchar over the rest of the field. Klobuchar won 3 in 10 moderate voters.
Still, there are warning signs for the moderate candidate. A majority of New Hampshire voters said they supported a single-payer health care system and tuition-free public college, two proposals that Klobuchar has forcefully dismissed on the campaign trail.
The CNN Exit Poll was conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool. Results are based on interviews conducted throughout the day with 1,947 randomly selected Democratic primary voters at 45 wards in New Hampshire. Results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.