Exit Polls Show Iraq, Economy Jitters

Voters in four Southern states were eager to see U.S. troops brought home from Iraq, worried about the economy and confident that likely presidential nominee John Kerry (searchshares their values, according to exit polls.

With little doubt that Kerry would carry the day, voters who went to the polls Tuesday were particularly dedicated and had the free time to make the trip. They also were older and more liberal than in previous Southern primaries.

The exit polls of voters were conducted in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for The Associated Press and the TV networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

Almost eight in 10 voters said Kerry shares their values, with almost half saying he shares them a lot. The economy was the top issue, and Kerry won four of five of those voters in the four states.

On average, almost half of voters said they were angry with President Bush, though the feeling was higher in states like Florida, where Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor, and in Texas, the president's home state.

"I don't think Bush is being frank with the country," said Clarence Patterson of North Miami, Fla. "He hasn't been frank regarding the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The economy is bad. Soldiers are still dying."

In Florida, one-fourth of those going to the polls were less than confident that votes in their state will be accurately counted this year. Problems with Florida's elections in 2000 led to the presidential election being settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of Bush. Anger at Gov. Bush was almost as high, four in 10 were angry, as with President Bush.

In Texas, Democrats have been angry about GOP's redrawing of congressional district boundaries. Anger at the Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, was almost as high — about four in 10 — as the number who said they were angry at President Bush.

By comparison, only two in 10 in Mississippi said they were angry at Republican Gov. Haley Barbour (search).

More than four in 10 voters in the four primaries want to see all the U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq, while another three in 10 want some of the troops withdrawn.

In other findings:

— Black voters were more likely than whites, 55 percent to 35 percent, to want the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

— When asked their preference for a running mate for Kerry, 51 percent chose North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the most support of any candidate. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tied Edwards among black voters.

— Almost four in 10 voters said they oppose legal recognition of gay marriage, and more than half in Mississippi felt that way. More than half of the black voters Tuesday also opposed legal recognition of same-sex marriage — including a majority in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The exit polls are based on interviews with 1,899 voters in Florida, 800 voters in Louisiana, 823 voters in Mississippi and 1,404 voters in Texas. They have margins of sampling error ranging from plus or minus 7 percentage points in Louisiana to plus or minus 3 percentage points in Florida.