In South Carolina, Marco Rubio barely eclipsed Ted Cruz for second place by less than two-tenths of a percentage point with almost all votes tallied.
The result confirms a late surge in polling for Rubio, and the network exit poll shows it was fueled by the upper class pragmatists of the Republican Party — a coalition that skews wealthier, more-educated and cosmopolitan — just the type of Republican who is apprehensive about Donald Trump becoming the party’s nominee. There’s also some indication South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s final-week endorsement helped boost Rubio’s standing in the closing days.
The strongest concentration of Rubio’s support was among voters who said electability in November was the most important factor in their vote in preliminary exit poll data. Only 15 percent chose that attribute as their No. 1, but Rubio won 47 percent of their votes. He also fared well among the 27 percent of voters who sought a candidate who shares their values, but won less support among those seeking a candidate to bring change to Washington or “tell it like it is.”
Rubio’s supporters skewed upscale and urban, winning 27 percent support among college graduates and 32 percent among those with postgraduate degrees, compared with only 15 percent of those without college degrees. Rubio’s support was 10 percentage points higher among those with incomes of at least $100,000 than those making less than $50,000 (26 vs. 16 percent). Rubio won 31 percent of the vote among Republicans living in cities with populations of at least 50,000, beating Trump’s 23 percent and Cruz’s 18 percent.
The exit poll found further evidence Rubio is appealing to Republicans who support the party’s establishment. He won more than one-third (36 percent) of the vote of those looking for a candidate with experience in politics but only 9 percent among those seeking someone from outside the political establishment. Rubio performed 9 points better among those who did not feel betrayed by the GOP (28 vs. 19 percent).
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin