Voters in Tuesday's Florida Republican primary mirror those in other early-voting states, with nearly half saying the most important quality a candidate can have is the ability to defeat President Barack Obama in November and over 6 in 10 calling the economy their top concern.
CONSERVATIVE BUT LESS EVANGELICAL: A majority of voters in Florida say they are politically conservative, similar to Iowa and South Carolina, though less than half consider themselves born-again or evangelical voters, a lower level than in South Carolina or Iowa.
THE GENDER GAP: Only about half of women in the poll report holding a positive opinion of Newt Gingrich as a person, compared with about 6 in 10 men. There is a smaller difference by gender in opinions of Mitt Romney as a person.
DEBATES STILL MATTER: About two-thirds of Florida voters called recent debates an important factor in their vote, about on par with the level saying so in South Carolina. These forums made more of a difference in the minds of Florida voters than campaign advertising; just 4 in 10 called ads an important factor in their vote.
ECONOMIC CONCERNS TRUMP ALL: About 6 in 10 said the economy was their top issue in choosing a candidate, about half said foreclosures were having a major impact on their community, and 3 in 10 said they were falling behind financially.
The survey of 1,979 Republican voters was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results among 1,379 voters interviewed Tuesday as they left their polling places at 40 randomly selected sites in Florida. In addition, 600 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Jan. 23 to 29. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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