clock menu more-arrow no yes

Lessons from the New York exit polls: Bernie Bros and #NeverTrump are real

The candidates who were expected to win the New York primary ended up taking home the victory: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

But that doesn't mean there aren't things to learn from CNN and NBC's exit polls, which provide hard numbers that back up some stereotypes of the campaign — and destroy others.

1) Bernie Bros are real. But Democrats aren't fighting as much as you think.

Man in Bernie T-shirt with beard and sunglasses in Vatican City
The Bernie Bros are even in Vatican City.
Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

If you spend a lot of time following politics online, your impression of the Democratic primary probably includes angry partisans shouting at each other: Clinton fans complaining about "Bernie Bros," and Bernie Sanders's supporters swearing they'll never vote for Clinton.

Part of that is true: The Bernie Bros — if you define "bro" very, very loosely — do seem to be a real phenomenon. Sanders won 64 percent of unmarried men, while Clinton won married men as well as unmarried and married women, according to exit polls.

But a vast majority of voters said they'd eventually support whoever the nominee is (85 percent said they "definitely" or "probably" would), and Sanders supporters didn't seem overwhelmingly more likely to oppose Clinton if she wins the nomination. About 14 percent of voters said they wouldn't vote for Clinton in the general, most of them Sanders supporters; 19 percent, nearly all Clinton supporters, said they'd vote against Sanders if he were the nominee.

2) Every Republican candidate has huge negatives for New Yorkers

The Republican exit polls do not show a party likely to coalesce behind any nominee. About 25 percent of Republican voters said they wouldn't vote for Trump if he were the nominee. Forty-one percent said they wouldn't vote for Cruz; 27 percent said the same for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

More than half of voters said they'd be "concerned or scared" if Cruz were elected. About half said the same for Kasich, and 36 percent for Trump. If there's a true consensus choice for New York Republicans in November, he or she isn't on the ballot right now.

3) Women lifted Clinton to victory

Clinton grinning with supporters' hands
Women made up 59 percent of New York's electorate and voted strongly for Clinton.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton split men's votes 50-50, according to CNN and NBC. But Clinton won overwhelmingly among women: 63 percent voted for her, compared with 37 percent for Sanders. And black women, one of her most reliable voting blocs, stuck with her: 79 percent voted for Clinton.

The poll doesn't break down votes by gender and age at the same time, and young women have preferred Sanders in the past, to the puzzlement of older feminists backing Clinton. If you consider marital status as a vague proxy for age, though, Clinton won both unmarried women (59 percent) and married women (63 percent).

This really matters, because women showed up to vote in much greater numbers in New York: 59 percent of all voters were women.

4) The Republican primary was all about Donald Trump

Trump during victory speech
It's all about the Donald. Always.
John Moore/Getty Images

Republicans were asked if they voted for their candidate or against the other guy. Trump supporters voted for their candidate. Kasich and Cruz supporters were more likely say they were voting against someone else. Trump sucked up all the oxygen in the room, even when voters didn't actually like him.

When voters were asked to describe how they'd feel about any of the candidates on the ballot as president, only 9 percent were excited by Kasich — which wouldn't be unusual for a candidate who's mostly been an also-ran, but Kasich got 25 percent of the statewide vote. Just 5 percent would be excited about Cruz.

5) Democrats are optimistic about the primary process

On the whole, Democratic voters think the contentious primary has been good for their party: 66 percent say it's "energized" rather than "divided" the party. Sanders supporters are more likely to say it's been divisive than Clinton supporters, who can perhaps afford to be magnanimous because they've been fairly certain their candidate will be the nominee.

Republicans think the opposite: 59 percent say it's been divisive. And given that large swaths of the party wouldn't vote for any candidate on the ballot, their assessment seems pretty accurate.

Watch: Why voter turnout in New York is so low

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.