Iowa’s Different: Eighty-three percent of caucus-goers said they were conservative, including nearly 50 percent as “very” conservative. Nationally, around four in ten adults call themselves conservative and only around 15 percent very conservative.
Nearly six in ten (57 percent) of caucus-goers identified themselves as evangelicals. Nationally, that number is much lower, usually around four in ten.
As we pointed out in the last AEI Political Report, the Republican electorate in Iowa is overwhelmingly white. Eighty-six percent checked that box on the exit poll. Nationally, about three-quarters of the population is white.
Facing Obama: Three groups Barack Obama is counting on didn’t perform well for Mitt Romney. There weren’t many Independents among Iowa caucus-goers (23 percent), but Ron Paul, not Romney, won the lion’s share of their votes. Among young people, Romney lagged, as he did among low income earners.
Gender Gaps: Rick Santorum performed slightly better among women than among men (27 percent of caucus-going women to 23 percent of the men voted for him). Men and women supported Romney equally. Ron Paul did much better among men than women; 24 percent of caucus-going men voted for Paul, compared to 19 percent of caucus-going women.
Seniors: Mitt Romney won the senior vote decisively; 33 percent voted for him compared to 20 percent for Santorum. Seniors are heavier voters than other groups so their support will be important to Romney in the nomination contest and the general if he is the nominee.
Economy Voters: Mitt Romney won caucus-goers who said their top issue was the economy by 33 percent to second-place finishers on this question, Ron Paul at 20 percent, and Rick Santorum at 19 percent. The economy was caucus-goers’ top issue, cited by 42 percent.
Conservative Colors: Despite Ron Paul’s libertarian background, his supporters continue to define conservatism in their own way. Among caucus-goers who said being “a true conservative” was the candidate quality that mattered most to them, 37 percent favored Ron Paul. Comparatively, 36 percent who listed this attribute as the most important candidate quality favored Santorum and only 1 percent of them, Romney.
Evangelicals: Self-identified evangelicals (57 percent of caucus-goers described themselves as born-again or evangelical) voted for Santorum (32 percent). Eighteen percent of this group supported Ron Paul, and 14 percent Romney, Gingrich, and Perry.
And On to New Hampshire: Romney’s armor is still strong in New Hampshire: Among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire who followed last night’s Iowa caucuses on TV or through other news sources in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation quickie poll, Romney still leads the pack by a likely insurmountable 47 percent to Paul’s 17 percent, Santorum’s 10 percent, and Gingrich’s 9 percent. A caution: last night’s poll was of attentive New Hampshire likely Republican primary voters who had been interviewed before. These respondents tend to be older than the actual electorate will be on primary day.