Exit polls show Biden drawing white voters away from Sanders

Former Vice President Joe Biden rode his solid advantage with black voters to a primary win in Mississippi on Tuesday and appeared poised to win over whites in Missouri, according to preliminary CNN exit polls.

White voters with college degrees, particularly men, aligned themselves with Biden in Missouri, a dramatic shift from four years ago, when they supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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A majority of white men with a college degree in Missouri supported Biden on Tuesday night, a group that Sanders won by nearly 30 percentage points, 64 percent to 36 percent, in the 2016 primary. Among whites overall, Biden led by double digits, a reversal from Sanders’ nine-point lead in 2016.

Black voters delivered yet another commanding win for Biden in the South, where he swept on last week’s Super Tuesday. Nearly two-thirds of primary voters in the state of Mississippi were black, and they said they supported Biden by a more than six-to-one margin, with around 8 in 10 saying they voted Biden vs. only a little over 1 in 10 for Sanders.

Seven in 10 black voters in Missouri also cast their ballots for Biden, roughly the same as two-thirds of that group in 2016.

Polls are also closed in the state of North Dakota, where Sanders won handily in 2016. Polls will close in the largest delegate prize of the evening, Michigan, at 9 p.m. ET, and in Idaho and Washington state at 11 p.m. ET.

Here’s what else we’re looking at in exit polls tonight:

Democratic voters trust Biden over Sanders to handle a crisis

Preliminary findings from CNN exit polls conducted in Tuesday’s primary states showed that Democratic voters trust Biden more than Sanders to handle a major crisis.

In Missouri, preliminary exit poll results showed nearly 6 in 10 Democratic primary voters trust Biden most to handle a major crisis, while about a quarter named Sanders.

In Michigan, where the exit poll reflected only those who voted on Election Day, roughly half of Democratic primary voters said they trust Biden most among the Democratic candidates to handle a major crisis. About a third say they trust Sanders most to handle a crisis.

The numbers are similar in Washington state, where about half of Democratic primary voters say they trust Biden to handle a crisis. About a quarter chose Sanders and roughly 1 in 5 chose Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the race on Friday. Voters cast their ballots by mail in Washington, and many ballots were mailed before the field of candidates winnowed over the past week.

The night’s biggest prize: Michigan

As in early primary states, health care was the single issue primary voters said they cared most about. Nearly half of Michigan Democratic voters chose health care as their top issue, according to early exit polls. About 1 in 5 named climate change, 1 in 6 chose income inequality and 1 in 10 chose race relations.

But Michigan primary voters seemed to favor policies further to the left of what Biden has proposed. Almost 6 in 10 said they support replacing private health insurance with a single government plan, like Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan. And around half say the nation’s economy needs a complete overhaul, while around 2 in 5 want only minor changes and 1 in 10 think it works well as is.

The coronavirus factor on the 2020 race

In Washington, where there has been a concentration of coronavirus cases, more than 8 in 10 Democratic primary voters said they were at least somewhat concerned about the effects of the outbreak, including nearly 4 in 10 who said they were “very concerned.”

The Biden and Sanders campaigns both canceled rallies on Tuesday night.

Older voters in Washington were more apt to be concerned than younger ones, with a narrow majority of those age 65 and older saying they are “very concerned” about coronavirus, compared with just 1 in 5 of those under age 45.

Looking ahead to November: How Democrats will take on Trump

Preliminary exit polls in Michigan show around 3 in 5 Democratic primary voters are more interested in selecting a nominee they think can beat Trump over someone who agrees with them on the issues.

That number was even higher in Washington state, where almost 7 in 10 primary voters said they want someone who can best Trump.

Almost 9 in 10 Democratic voters in Washington will vote for the Democrat in November regardless of who the nominee is, according to early exit polls. Around 8 in 10 in Michigan and Missouri say the same.

About two-thirds of Democratic primary voters in Michigan and even more, 8 in 10, in Washington are angry at the Trump administration. Only single digits said they were enthusiastic or satisfied regarding the current administration.

CNN exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool in four states voting on March 10. Results are based on interviews conducted throughout the day with randomly selected Democratic primary voters at voting locations in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi. Results in these states are reflective only of those who cast ballots on election day. In Washington, a telephone poll was conducted to interview those who vote by mail.

The margin of error for results based on the full sample is plus or minus 4 points in Michigan, Missouri and Washington and plus or minus 5 points in Mississippi.

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