What won it
: The NBC exit poll includes some fascinating and surprising data. Among the issues that mattered most to voters, the top issue was not terrorism or Iraq.
The top issue (21%) was “moral values”; 78% of those who cared about that went for Bush, 19% for Kerry. That’s a huge difference. Read this one as you will (MSNBC commentators see it as code for Vietnam and the Swifties).
Next: economy/jobs at 20%; 81% preferring Kerry, 17% Bush. So Kerry got much better marks on the economy.
Terror comes in third at 18%; 85% preferring Bush, 15% Kerry. That’s the one that amazes me — not in the Kerry/Bush split but in the importance voters gave it. Bush ran on terrorism; it wasn’t No. 1 in the minds of voters; yet he still won.
Iraq comes in next at 15%; 75% preferring Kerry, 24% Bush. No surprise.
Health next at 8%; 79% preferring Kerry, 21% Bush.
Taxes next at only 5%; evenly split at 52% preferring Bush, 47% preferring Kerry.
Finally, education at 4%; 76% preferring Kerry, 23% preferring Bush. So much for the education president as a defining issue.
53% say we’re safer from terrorism now; 43% said not. That appears to be why terrorism came in No. 3 above; it’s hardly a nonissue, but it’s an issue declining in the priority list.
Iraq is similarly split: 53% say it’s going very/somewhat badly and 42% very/somewhat well. Not a landslide.
52% say Iraq is part of the war on terrorism; 45% say not.