Mitt Romney cruised to an easy victory in the Maryland Republican primary thanks to a double dose of higher-income voters and people who see his ideological positions as being in line with their own.
Ideology - Nearly half of primary voters in preliminary exit polls said Romney was “about right” in his ideological position on issues. That’s ties for the highest number who’ve said so about him in any of the states where the question has been asked. Romney ran ahead of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum among these voters by nearly 70 points. At the same time, about a third of voters said Santorum was “too conservative” on the issues, and they favored Romney by a similarly wide margin.
Evangelicals - Fewer than four in 10 of Maryland voters described themselves as evangelical Christians, on the low side of all the Republican contests so far. Romney beat Santorum narrowly among this group. But Romney had more than a 30-point advantage among the much more numerous non-evangelicals, who accounted for over six in 10 voters.
Income - Maryland Republicans are the wealthiest to vote this year, according to preliminary exit polls. Nearly half of Maryland Republican voters have household incomes of $100,000 or higher, and Romney beat Santorum by 2 to 1 among this group. He also beat Santorum among lower income voters, but by smaller margins.
Attributes - Santorum finished in a distant second place, with the vast majority of his backers saying they were looking for a “true conservative” or a candidate with “strong moral character.” Both attributes have been key this year for the former Pennsylvania senator, but they made up fewer than four in 10 Maryland voters and could not outweigh Romney’s massive advantages among voters focused on electability and experience.
Romney won a majority of voters who picked the economy as the most important issue. And he won over seven in 10 voters who said the ability to defeat President Obama was the top attribute they were seeking in a candidate.
These are preliminary results of a poll of 1,243 Republican voters as they exited primary voting places in Maryland on April 3, 2012. Typical results have a margin of sampling error of four percentage points; error is higher for subgroups. The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research for the National Election Pool, The Washington Post and other media organizations.