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WHY THEY VOTED THE WAY THEY DID

Why New Hampshire Democrats and independents voted as they did:

Issues: Health care, Iraq and the economy were the most important issues to voters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Three in 10 voters said health care was the most important issue in how they voted _ and they favored John Kerry followed by Howard Dean. Two in 10 named the economy, and that group tended to back Kerry, and two in 10 chose Iraq _ a group that leaned toward Dean.

Voters in the Iowa caucuses were more likely to name the economy as the top issue, with three in 10 choosing it. There were minor differences in the Iowa and New Hampshire lists, however.

Qualities: Three in 10 said they most wanted a candidate who would stand up for what he believes in and they favored Dean by more than 2-to-1 over Kerry. Two in 10 said they most wanted a candidate who could defeat George W. Bush and they favored Kerry by almost 6-to-1.

Independents: Almost half said they were registered as independents, suggesting a high independent turnout this primary. One-third of independents backed Kerry, one-fourth backed Dean and the rest were split among John Edwards, Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman.

Military: Kerry, a Vietnam War hero, led Dean and Clark, a retired Army general, among voters from military households and among veterans.

Gender: Almost six in 10 voters were women.

Income: Four in 10 voters earned $40,000 or less; one-fourth of voters made $50,000 to $75,000.

Ideology: Half the voters said they consider themselves liberals, with almost one in six of the full sample saying they consider themselves very liberal. Four in 10 said they were moderates. Dean and Kerry were tied among liberals, while Kerry led among moderates.

Decision timing: About half of the voters said they had decided on a candidate in the last week. Kerry performed very well among those who decided early in the last week, while Edwards was strong among those who decided in the closing days.

Tax cuts: Most voters favored rolling back at least some of President Bush's tax cuts. Dean did best among the one-third who want to roll back all the tax cuts, while Kerry did better among those who want to roll back tax cuts only for the wealthy.

Personal finances: Almost four in 10 said their family's financial situation is worse now than it was four years ago, while roughly the same number said it was about the same. Kerry led among the four in 10 who said their financial situation was worse.

Feelings about Bush: Half the voters said they were angry at Bush, while one-third said they were dissatisfied but not angry. Dean and Kerry both performed well among the half of voters who said they were angry at Bush.

War in Iraq: Sentiment was strong against the war in Iraq, with four in 10 saying they strongly disapprove and another two in 10 saying they are somewhat disapproving of the war. Dean and Kerry were closely competing for the support of those who disapproved of the war.

Terrorism: About three-fourths of voters said they remain worried about the possibility of another major terrorist attack in the United States.

Unions: Almost one in five voters said they were from union households.

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The exit polls were conducted for the Associated Press by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International. The survey questioned 1,848 voters in the Democratic primary as they left precincts Tuesday. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall Democratic sample.

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