Clinton on target in Georgia while Trump gets broad support

- Hillary Clinton's decisive primary victory in Georgia confirmed one maxim in state politics: Democrats need African-American voters to win.

Clinton's victory over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hinged on turning out the state's large black population, which is a historically Democratic voting bloc. About 4 in 10 voters in Georgia's Democratic primary were African-American, and about 8 in 10 of them favored Clinton. That mirrors her strong showing among black voters in South Carolina over the weekend and in other Southern states Tuesday.

But Donald Trump's victory in the GOP presidential primary threw expectations about blocs of Republican voters into disarray. The brash businessman and reality television star's anti-Washington message won support from Georgia Republicans regardless of age, income, education level or region. Recent presidential primaries have split support among candidates by region. In 2008, for instance, Mike Huckabee dominated rural parts of the state while Mitt Romney won metro Atlanta counties and John McCain peeled off support elsewhere.

Trump received support from nearly half of GOP voters who described themselves as moderate and also won over about 4 in 10 voters who described themselves as evangelical. About 6 in 10 Republicans who said they wanted an outsider to be the next president went for Trump. Joining them Tuesday at a library in Atlanta's well-off Buckhead neighborhood was Ty McCain, who characterized his vote for Donald Trump as an "anti-establishment" choice.

McCain said he admired Trump's early "self-funded" approach to the campaign. Trump initially made a personal loan to his campaign and later began accepting contributions.

"All these other guys are giving lip service to change," said McCain, a 47-year-old attorney. "Trump is putting his money where his mouth is."

Jefferson McConkey called himself a "50-50" participant in presidential primaries but cast a ballot for Trump on Tuesday at the same polling place. McConkey, a real estate developer, said he's willing to give Trump a break for previous statements on social issues like abortion that are out of step with some Republican voters.

"I think people's social opinions can change over decades; that's normal," McConkey said.

Incomplete results showed Trump had received about 40 percent of the statewide vote while U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fought for second place. Both candidates ramped up their attacks against Trump in recent days ahead of the GOP contests in 11 states Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton received about 71 percent of the statewide vote, based on incomplete returns. She also had strong support from women and young voters.

Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the large African-American population in Georgia and other Southern states hasn't loosened Republicans' hold in general presidential elections. That situation only reverses in Democratic primaries, she said.

Elizabeth Black said she hoped the Super Tuesday states would help Hillary Clinton lock down the Democratic nomination soon so she can focus on November. Black, a 75-year-old retiree, said she's worried Republican interest in the presidential race will swamp Democrats if Clinton gets a late start.

"We need someone who will beat Trump," Black said after voting for Clinton at her polling place in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood.

William Garcia, a 61-year-old who voted for Clinton at his Atlanta polling place, also looked ahead to the November election and said he's concerned Sanders is "a little bit too radical."

"(Clinton's) platform is realistically more achievable," he said. "Just look at how much President Obama has struggled with Congress."


Black voters helped propel Hillary Clinton to a strong victory in Georgia, while angry Republicans and those who want an outsider as president helped Donald Trump win the state, according to preliminary results of exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks.

About 7 in 10 Democrats chose the former Secretary of State Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who struggled to win any group of voters in the state.

On the Republican side, about 4 in 10 voters selected businessman and reality television star Trump, showing he could count on the support of voters from different age groups, income levels and educational backgrounds.

Here's what the exit polls found in the Peach State:


Clinton continues to win black votes in the South

About half of voters in Georgia's Democratic primary were African-American, and about 8 in 10 of them favored Clinton. That mirrors her strong showing among black voters in other Southern states.

White voters accounted for about 4 in 10 of Georgia Democrats, and they gave Clinton a narrower margin of victory. Nearly two-thirds of white women supported Clinton, while white men were more evenly split.

Voters under 45 were split between the two candidates, while nearly 8 in 10 of voters over age 45 supported Clinton.

Overall, three-quarters of Democratic women voted for Clinton, while nearly two-thirds of men supported her.


Trump leads among republicans who want an outsider

More than 6 in 10 GOP voters who said they wanted an outsider to be the next president went for Donald Trump. Those who were angry at the government also favored the businessman.

Of Republicans who said the ability to bring needed change was the most important factor in their decision, about half chose Trump.

About 4 in 10 Republicans who said they are somewhat or very worried about the economy voted for Trump.

Trump continued to hold his momentum among religious voters. Of the 7 in 10 Georgia Republicans who identified as born-again or evangelical Christians, 4 in 10 of them voted for Trump.


Most liberal Democrats are Sanders' bright spot

About 6 in 10 Democrats said they generally want the next president to continue the policies of President Barack Obama, and 8 in 10 of those voters chose Clinton. Of those who'd like to see more liberal policies going forward, nearly 6 in 10 favored Sanders.


Ban on non-citizen Muslims popular among Republicans

About 7 in 10 Republican voters believe that Muslims who are not U.S. citizens should not be allowed to enter the country, and nearly half of them voted for Trump.

About half of Republican voters said people who are in the country illegally should be deported or given a chance to apply for legal status. But of those who think they should be deported, over half supported Trump

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RELATED: Results of Georgia's Presidential Preference Primaries

Republicans cast by far the most ballots during early voting. Joining them Tuesday at a school in Smyrna was Mike Morrow, who wore a shirt depicting former President Ronald Reagan wearing a headband. Morrow voted for GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

"I voted for Trump because I am tired of Washington politics," said Morrow, who carried his infant in a car seat to the polls. "I think he is going to do what he says he is going to do, so I voted for Trump."



Cherokee County for Trump spent the day pushing for votes for the republican frontrunner.  Traveling to several locations throughout the county with their signs and American flags.

The group celebrated Tuesday evening, quickly after the polls closed and Trump was declared the winner in the Georgia primary.

“He is the right man for the position, he has the talent, the experience,” said Lori Pesta, Chair for Cherokee County for Trump.  “He has the money to support his own campaign first of all which is a huge plus for the voters.”



In Woodstock, Trump supporters set up near two voting precincts, where several people honked their horns as they drove on Towne Lake Parkway, some in support of Trump, others against. 

Despite some party leaders vowing to never back Donald Trump, supporters are confident he will be the Republican nominee.

“That is why we were outside today waiving signs and pulling in the votes for the past week or so and will continue to do that until November and he is in the White House,” said Pesta.  

RELATED: How did Trump do in other Super Tuesday states?

In Atlanta, 69-year-old Jon Russell ended up supporting Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest — saying that while he actually prefers Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, he found Clinton better positioned to win the White House in November.

"I have trouble with trust," Russell said, explaining his reservations about Clinton. "But unfortunately the other chap doesn't have the foreign affairs experience."

Rubio and Cruz held separate rallies Saturday in metro Atlanta; Rubio returned Monday. Trump also spoke to supporters in south Georgia on Monday night. Kasich visited the state earlier this month, holding two overflow town halls north of Atlanta.


Clinton rallied supporters Friday at Atlanta City Hall, promising to return to help turn the red state to blue.

Outside her polling place, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Althea Joefield of Atlanta said she wants to see what America would be like with a woman in the White House.

"That's what brought me out of my bed and brought me out here," Joefield said.

Bronwyn Robinson, who voted in Atlanta's liberal Candler Park neighborhood, ended up supporting Sanders.

"I don't think that Bernie can win, but it's really a statement of support for something different looking at our country as a whole," she said.


Sanders spoke before thousands in mid-February at Atlanta's historically black Morehouse College.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, Sanders' top surrogate in Georgia, said he believes Sanders can exceed expectations.

"This is not a year for the status quo, and Hillary Clinton is the status quo," Fort said.

RELATED: How did Clinton did in other Super Tuesday states?

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