- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders swamped Democratic presidential primary rival Hillary Clinton in Vermont as voters in his home state Tuesday barely registered national trends that favor Clinton among women and older voters.

Meanwhile, Republican Donald Trump eked out a narrow victory over Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Trump scored with more populous voters in the $50,000 to $100,000 income range, while Kasich did better among the better-off.

Sanders demolished Clinton in just about every voting category, according to results of an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television stations. Eight in 10 women supported Sanders, while about 9 in 10 men voted for him; about three quarters of voters ages 65 or older supported Vermont’s junior senator; and more than 9 in 10 under age 30 did, as well.

Clinton’s strong showing among black voters in other states wouldn’t register in exit polls in Vermont, a state that is more than 93 percent non-Hispanic white.

In the Republican contest, Trump and Kasich drew strong support over Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Many Trump supporters had made their decision more than a month ago, while Kasich’s recent trips to Vermont appeared to have helped him.

Among other exit poll findings were:

- Experience didn’t help Clinton as much as an advantage on honesty helped Sanders. Six in 10 who chose experience as their most important quality in a candidate picked her, but experience was the most important quality for just 1 in 10 voters. About half of Democratic primary voters said honesty was the most important quality, and they were nearly unanimous for Sanders.

- It was a draw between Sanders and Clinton among those wanting to pick a candidate who’s most likely to win in November - another category in which she performed relatively well. But fewer than 1 in 10 voters chose that as their most important quality.

- Not surprisingly for a self-described democratic socialist like Sanders, the senator did better among lower-income voters than higher-income. But not to where it benefited Clinton. Sanders got 9 of 10 voters with less than $30,000 in income and nearly 8 in 10 of those with incomes over $100,000.

- Sanders, a long-time political independent running for a Democratic nomination for the first time, did slightly better among first-time Democratic primary voters than he did among those who had voted in a Democratic primary in previous elections.

- Sanders also did somewhat better among voters who said they considered themselves independents than he did among those who called themselves Democrats.

Among Democrats in general, a third chose income inequality as their top issue; another third said it was the economy; and less than 1 in 10 chose concern about terrorism. Asked whether the U.S. economy favors the wealthy or treats people fairly, nearly 9 in 10 Democratic voters said it favors the wealthy.

On the Republican side, asked which candidate ran “the most unfair campaign,” nearly half of the Vermont voters chose Trump, while about a quarter chose Cruz. Among Vermont’s GOP voters, 9 in 10 said they took a negative view of the way the federal government has been operating; roughly 4 in 10 said the economy was their top issue; and 9 in 10 said they were very or somewhat concerned about where the economy is headed.

Also, nearly a third of Republican voters said they were born-again or evangelical Christians; about a third said the most important candidate quality in casting their vote was that he shared their values; another third said they decided on the candidate who they believed could bring needed change.

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The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 20 randomly selected sites in Vermont. Results include interviews with 1,542 Democratic primary voters and 536 Republican primary voters. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for Democratic primary voters and 5 percentage points for Republican primary voters.

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