GOP voters in Ala., Miss. worried about economy

By Jennifer Agiesta/The Associated Press

Voters going to the polls for the GOP primaries in Mississippi and Alabama, like their partisans in other states, were most concerned about the economy and a candidate’s ability to defeat President Barack Obama.

NO LETUP IN ECONOMIC CONCERN: Economic issues were top of mind for voters in both Alabama and Mississippi, but contrary to recent national polls suggesting Americans are shifting toward a more positive outlook on the economy and the government, GOP primary voters in both states are deeply negative. More than 8 in 10 Alabama voters said they were very worried about the direction of the economy. And in Mississippi, a similar number were dissatisfied or angry with the way the federal government is working.

LATE DECIDERS: About a third of voters in each state said they made up their minds in the final days of the contest, about on par with the share saying so in Georgia and Oklahoma during last week’s Super Tuesday voting.

EVANGELICALS DOMINATE: In both states, the vast majority of voters identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. In Alabama, about three-quarters of voters were white born-again Christians; about 8 in 10 were in Mississippi.

ELECTABILITY STILL TOPS: The ability to beat Obama in November is a major force driving the vote, with about 4 in 10 saying that’s the top quality they sought in a GOP candidate. But it is not the only factor driving voter decisions. Other factors, like having a strong moral character, being a true conservative or having the right experience, when taken together, were cited as a top factor by about 6 in 10 voters.

READING THE AIRWAVES: About half of voters in each state said campaign ads were an important factor in their choice, a bit more than said so in Nevada, Florida, New Hampshire or Iowa.

The surveys of voters in Alabama’s and Mississippi’s GOP presidential primaries were conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results among 1,024 voters interviewed Tuesday as they left their polling places at 30 randomly selected sites in Alabama, and among 1,102 Mississippi voters as they left 30 polling places. Each survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.