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Early exit polls show Ariz., Mich. voters less attuned to debates, made up their minds earlier
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Preliminary results from exit polling in Arizona and Michigan suggest voters in each state made up their minds earlier than voters in previous contests. While voters remain focused on the economy, abortion and immigration are growing in importance.
DEBATES LOSING STEAM: Debates were not an important factor in most voters' decisions. About 34 percent in Michigan and 45 percent in Arizona said debates were an important factor, well off the debate high-point notched in Florida and South Carolina, where more than 6 in 10 called debates leading up to those primaries an important factor in their vote. At the same time there were fewer late-deciders in these two states than in any previous contest measured with an exit poll.
ECONOMIC CHALLENGES: About 1 in 3 Michigan voters said they or someone in their household had lost a job in the last three years, while 1 in 5 Arizona voters said their family was falling behind financially. In both states, the economy was most frequently cited as voters' top issue.
ABORTION: There has been an increased focus on abortion in the campaign lately, and the preliminary exit poll results show Michigan Republicans picking up on it, with about 1 in 8 calling that their top issue. Early results suggest fewer in Arizona were focused on abortion. In both states, about 6 in 10 voters said they believe abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.
VIEWS OF McCAIN: In Arizona, the home state of Sen. John McCain, the GOP's 2008 nominee for president, about 4 in 10 say they have an unfavorable opinion of him.
SEEKING RELIGIOUS COMPATIBILITY: A narrow majority of voters in Michigan said it mattered a great deal or somewhat that a candidate shares their religious beliefs, about the same as in 2008. In Arizona, that figure stood at about half. About 4 in 10 voters in each state describe themselves as born-again or evangelical.
Early results from the Arizona exit poll are based on interviews with 1,617 Republican primary voters, including 601 absentee or early voters who were interviewed by phone before election day. Michigan results are based on interviews with 1,631 voters, including 412 absentee or early voters. Election day voters come from a random sample of 30 precincts in each state. Both polls have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.