Exit Polls Explain The New Mexico Vote
Highlights of results of exit polls conducted in New Mexico for The Associated Press and television networks:
WHY OBAMA WON: President Barack Obama scored well among first-time voters and younger voters, and he nearly split votes with Republican challenger Mitt Romney among voters over 30.
The newly re-elected president had a commanding lead among Hispanic men and women, but white voters favored Romney.
Both candidates maintained votes within their political bases.
Self-described moderates sided with Obama, as did voters whose family income was under $50,000. Romney led voters who made $100,000 or more.
GARY JOHNSON: The former New Mexico governor drew little support from the state in his third-party bid for the White House.
His strongest shows were in groups that included people 30 to 44 years old, voters who never attend religious services, named taxes as the No. 1 economic problem facing "people like you" and voters who cited foreign policy as the top issue facing the country.
Even then, he picked up few votes and considerably less than Obama and Romney.
U.S. SENATE SEAT ALSO GOES TO DEMS: Democrat Martin Heinrich gained strong support from Hispanic and female voters to defeat Republican Heather Wilson.
He also was favored by voters younger than 30, liberals and self-described moderates. Wilson scored better among whites, conservatives and voters who identified themselves as independents.
Both candidates performed about the same in reaching across party lines for support.
ECONOMY: New Mexico voters are about evenly divided on whether they believe the U.S. economy is getting better, getting worse or staying about the same — but nearly 6 in 10 say it's the top issue facing the country.
Three-fourths of voters rate the current condition of the economy as "not so good" or "poor."
The single biggest economic problem, voters say, is rising prices, with unemployment in the No. 2 spot.
HEALTH CARE, TO EXPAND OR NOT: More voters think that the 2010 federal health care law should be completely or partially repealed than those who want to expand it or leave it as is.
FEW LATE DECIDERS: Most New Mexico voters had their minds made up about who they would vote for in the presidential race well ahead of Election Day. About 1 in 10 voters made their choice Tuesday or in the past few days.
QUALITIES THAT MATTER: New Mexico voters want a president who has a vision for the future. About one-third of voters named that as the top quality among four choices, followed by "shares my values," ''cares about people like me" and "is a strong leader."
Nearly two-thirds of New Mexico voters strongly favor the candidate they chose, while about one-fifth said they like their candidate but with reservations.
They don't necessarily have a more favorable opinion of one candidate or the other.
The survey of 2,514 New Mexico voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 25 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 930 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.