Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) came out of Iowa ahead of the other Democratic contenders, with North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) capturing the second and third spots in the caucuses Monday night.
• PDF: Dem Caucus Exit Poll
While support among women was closely divided between Kerry (33 percent) and Edwards (29 percent), male caucus attendees went strongly for Kerry (37 percent) over Edwards (23 percent) and Dean (20 percent).
Union households, an important voting group in Iowa, made up 23 percent of caucus attendees. Both Dean and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt received endorsements from union groups, but they weren’t enough to help these candidates capture top billing. A plurality of caucus goers from union households supported Kerry (29 percent) followed by Edwards (22 percent), Gephardt (22 percent), and Dean (19 percent).
By a 10-percentage point margin young people preferred Kerry to Dean (35 percent to 25 percent), with Edwards’ support at 20 percent among voters age 17-30 years. Seniors also favored Kerry (43 percent) over Edwards (23 percent), Gephardt (17 percent) and Dean (15 percent).
While less than one in five participants consider themselves "very liberal," this is one place where Dean (32 percent) was favored over Kerry (28 percent).Among those calling themselves "moderates," Kerry bests Edwards by 10 percentage points (37 percent to 27 percent).
Overall, 55 percent said this was the first time they had ever attended an Iowa Democratic caucus. This group of first-time attendees backed Kerry (36 percent), however Edwards and Dean also did well among this group (24 percent and 22 percent respectively).
Most Important Issue
Democrats in Iowa are focused primarily on the issues of the economy and health care, the war in Iraq, and education, in that order.
Among caucus attendees who cited the economy as the issue that mattered most in determining which candidate to support in tonight’s caucuses, 34 percent were Kerry supporters, 33 percent Edwards supporters, and 16 percent Dean supporters.
The top candidate among those saying health care was the issue that motivated their choice was Kerry (38 percent), followed by Edwards (25 percent) and Dean (22 percent).
By three-to-one Iowa Democratic caucus goers disapprove of the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq, and many of these attendees backed Kerry (34 percent). Dean and Edwards each received 24 percent.
Important Candidate Qualities
Overall, a plurality of the caucus goers said having a candidate who takes strong stands on the issues (29 percent) was most important in deciding which of the hopefuls to support, followed by someone who can beat President George W. Bush (26 percent), and 22 percent chose "cares about people like me" as the most important candidate attribute.
Dean received stronger support among caucus goers who said they wanted a candidate who takes strong stands on the issues, while attendees who selected "can beat Bush," went for Kerry.
Fifteen percent of participants said "right experience" is the most important quality, but endorsements were the most important quality to only one percent.
There was a lot of movement in polls over the last week or so, each candidate trying to convince Iowans to support him. Caucus attendees who said they had just decided within the last week who to support (41 percent of caucus attendees), split their support between Kerry (39 percent) and Edwards (35 percent).Only 14 percent of the late deciders supported Dean.
About four in 10 caucus attendees reported using the Internet either "a great deal" or "somewhat" to get news and information about the candidates. Of the 17 percent who used the Internet "a great deal" to learn about the Democratic contenders, 31 percent supported Kerry and 25 percent favored Dean.
Methodology: The Fox News Entrance Poll was taken at 50 precinct Democratic caucus sites throughout Iowa this evening. Caucus goers were questioned as they entered their caucus sites, which means their answers reflect their candidate preference before the caucuses began.