Early Exit Polling Suggests Americans Looking for “Strong Leader”

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Exit polls can be deeply flawed, yet they’re the most accurate way to understand same-day behaviors of voters–at least until the numbers come in. And the early exit polls today are showing marked differences from those of the last election.

Voters are almost twice as likely to vote for a presidential candidate that they believe will be a “strong leader” in this election. Back in 2012, that concern wasn’t nearly as apparent.


POLITICO has been conducting exit polls early voters, and are crunching the numbers. While it is a small sample, the same poll was conducted in 2012, so we have some basis for comparison.

36 percent of 2016 voters chose a “strong leader.” Back in 2012, that same number was just 18 percent. This number is consistent across the parties, though, reinforcing the notion that voters have perceptions of their candidates as “strong,” regardless of their affiliation.

As for compassionate candidates, democrats were much more likely to value a caring candidate. 20 percent of democrats noted that they voted for a candidate the cared about them. Only 12 percent of the Republicans shared this concern.


As is typical on election day, most Americans are glad it is almost over. 85 percent said they “just want it to be over.” 53 percent of those polled characterized themselves as angry. 50 percent said they were sad. 39 percent said they were depressed.

If the polls are any indication of Obama’s legacy, the outgoing POTUS has reason to feel optimistic. 31 percent said their financial situations were better off.  That is up from 25 percent at the end of Obama’s first term.


Only thirty percent said they are worse off today. Four years ago, the number was slightly higher: 33 percent. The majority, 38 percent, said things were the same.


44 percent said the country’s finances are worse. That’s a powerful perception, and one that may dog Obama’s legacy. And 71 percent of republicans, perhaps unsurprisingly, say the country is worse off.

So which of the “strong leaders” has the answers? We’ll see who the voters favor soon. Very soon.