Preliminary exit polling showed Donald Trump unifying key coalitions in the Republican base while struggling to hold off Hillary Clinton’s strengths among a diversifying and increasingly educated electorate.
Here are some highlights:
Gender: Women have narrowly outnumbered men at the polls in presidential elections back to 1984. Preliminary exit polls suggest this is the likely outcome again this year, though the margin may be closer. And the gender gap is alive and well. The early exits show Clinton leading Trump among women by low double digits, while Trump has a single-digit lead among men. This is similar to the gender gap in the 2012 presidential election.
Age: There was a distinct and now familiar age pattern to the presidential vote: Overall, Clinton won among voters under age 40, Trump led among those age 50 and older, and the two divided the vote among 40-somethings.
Young voters came out in shares similar to the Obama years, and overall they gave their vote to Clinton, though she failed to equal Obama’s totals. In 2008, Obama got 66 percent of the under-30 vote. Early exit polls suggested that Clinton was getting about 54 percent.
Race: Trump won among white voters by nearly 20 percentage points, roughly the same share as went to Mitt Romney in 2012, but lost badly among the roughly 30 percent of the electorate made up of racial and ethnic minority groups.
While whites continue to make up the bulk of the electorate, their share has ticked down across recent elections. Whites made up 87 percent of the electorate in 1992, 81 percent in 2000, and 72 percent in 2012. Early exit polls suggest roughly 7 in 10 voters are white, but it will be late in the evening before we know whether we will hit a record low here.
African American voters went strong for Clinton, who garnered nearly 9 in 10 of their votes. After two years of strong African American turnout (13 percent in each of the past two elections), early exit polls suggest turnout is on a similar track.
Clinton also had a large lead among Hispanics, garnering about two-thirds of their votes, on par with Obama’s margins in the past two elections. Hispanics hit double-digit turnout in 2012 (making up 10 percent of the electorate, according to exit polls). Though there has been talk of a Hispanic turnout surge, preliminary exit polls suggest that a similar share of the electorate is Hispanic this year.
Among all nonwhite voters, Clinton led by over 50 points, which is smaller than Obama’s 61-point margin among nonwhites four years ago.
Republicans and Trump: If there was any question as to whether rank-and-file Republicans would shy from Trump, the preliminary exit polls dispelled them: Self-identified Republicans backed Trump in similar numbers as they did Romney or 2008 nominee John McCain, giving him nearly 9 in 10 of their votes.
Trump also was edging Clinton among independents in the early exit polls, as Romney did Trump in 2012. But Democrats outnumbered Republicans at the polls, as they did in the past two elections, and 9 in 10 backed Clinton.
Education: Clinton did especially well among the roughly 20 percent of voters with some sort of postgraduate education, winning that group by more than 20 points. Among other education groups, the candidates were divided only by single digits, roughly tying among those with a high school education or less, and Clinton leading with a narrow margin among college grads.
Pre-election polling suggested Clinton had a chance at winning white college graduates, but preliminary exit polls suggest the race is roughly tied with this group. That’s a big improvement for Democrats compared with four years ago, but not a win. Among whites without a college degree, Trump leads by over 30 points. The election could represent a new low for Democrats among this voting group.
Religion: White evangelical Christians made up 40 percent of voters at the polls Tuesday. They went strongly for Trump, giving him more than three-quarters of their votes, on par with Romney’s totals among this group in 2012.