Key primary numbers to know

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Donald Trump continues to rack up wins across the map on Super Tuesday, the biggest primary day of the presidential race.

NBC News exit polls provide some clues about the coalition the former president has put together that has allowed him to cruise through the GOP nominating fight — and also where his weak spots could be in November. 

The exit polls surveyed voters in Virginia, North Carolina and California, and NBC News projects that Trump will win all three states, defeating former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The polls also surveyed voters who participated in California’s Senate primary and the GOP primary for governor in North Carolina, where Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is projected to win the Republican nomination. 

Here are some key takeaways from the NBC News exit polls so far: 

Trump’s dominance with the GOP base 

Trump’s popularity among GOP base voters propelled him to victory in the early primary states and again on Super Tuesday. In Virginia, Trump won 79% of self-described GOP voters, who made up 60% of the electorate, while Haley won just 19% of Republicans. And Trump won the vast majority (77%) of conservative voters in Virginia, who made up two-thirds of the Virginia primary electorate.

In North Carolina, self-described Republicans made up 62% of the primary electorate, and Trump won 85% of them. Trump also won 81% of self-described conservative voters, who made up a whopping 78% of the GOP primary electorate in the state.

And in California, Trump won 76% of self-identified Republicans, who made up two-thirds of the primary electorate.

Many GOP voters decided long ago whom they would support

The North Carolina and Virginia exit polls also show a similar trend to previous GOP contests: A majority of voters decided whom they would support before the primary became a two-person race between Trump and Haley. And most of those voters supported Trump. 

In Virginia, nearly two-thirds of GOP primary voters (64%) said they decided whom to support before the start of this year, meaning before the first primary votes were cast in January. Trump overwhelmingly won those voters, 78% of whom backed him. 

In North Carolina, 51% of GOP primary voters said they decided whom to support before this year, with 81% of them supporting Trump.

Some warning signs for Trump

Even as Trump further builds his massive delegate lead, the exit polls do provide some potential warning signs for him looking ahead to the general election, especially among more moderate and well-educated voters. 

In both Virginia, North Carolina and California, around one-third of primary voters answered “no” to the question of whether they will vote for the GOP nominee regardless of who it is (31% in Virginia, 34% in North Carolina and 33% in California). 

Similar shares of primary voters — 37% in Virginia and 31% in North Carolina — said that Trump, currently facing four indictments, would not be fit to be president if he is convicted of a crime. A smaller share of California GOP primary voters (23%) also said Trump would not be fit to serve if convicted. 

Trump also struggled among college-educated voters compared to the broader primary electorate, which could be a potential warning sign as well-educated voters have become key to the Democrats’ coalition. 

Trump won 47% of voters with a college degree in Virginia, losing them to Haley by 3 points. He did win college-educated voters in North Carolina by 15 points, winning 56% of them. But in California, Trump won 71% of college-educated primary voters.

Early clues about the North Carolina governor’s race

The GOP primary exit polls also provide some early signals about North Carolina’s race for governor. The race to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to be the most competitive governor’s contest this year.

Trump endorsed Robinson in the GOP primary and recently described the lieutenant governor, who has a history of making offensive comments, as “Martin Luther King on steroids.” 

The North Carolina exit poll showed Robinson’s victory was fueled by a lot of the groups that supported Trump in the presidential primary, which could be a sign that his fate in November will be closely tied to the former president’s. 

Robinson won 73% of Trump voters in the primary — one of his best performances among voter groups. His Trump-voter share was second only to those voters who hold the unfounded belief that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election, of which Robinson won 75%. 

Robinson’s worst performances in the primary were among voters who described themselves as moderates or liberals. He won just 35% of those voters Tuesday, per the exit poll. 

NBC News projects that Robinson will face Democrat Josh Stein, the state attorney general, in November. 


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