Virginia Exit Polls Show Why Bush Defeated McCain

By Jerry Miller | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Texas Governor George W Bush's double-digit victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in Tuesday's Virginia primary contest was heavily influenced by Christian conservative voters, according to exit polls.

Members of the so-called religious right overwhelmingly supported Bush by a margin of 81 percent to 14 percent while the two candidates virtually split the non-religious right vote with McCain eking out a win by a margin of 49 percent to 48 percent.

Among self-described Republican voters, Bush defeated McCain by a margin of 69 percent to 28 percent while McCain won the votes of Independents by a margin of 64 percent to 32 percent. Bush's percentage among Independents was his best showing yet. In New Hampshire, he won only 19 percent of that group and under 25 percent in Michigan. Democrats went for McCain by a margin of 87 percent to 11 percent.

Among self-described conservatives, Bush defeated McCain by a margin of 69 percent to 27 percent while moderates went for McCain by a margin of 62 percent to 36 percent.

McCain also won self-described liberals by a margin of 69 percent to 28 percent.

On the question of abortion, those who wanted the procedure outlawed went for Bush 74 percent to 16 percent while 63 percent of those who said abortion should always be legal supported McCain by a margin of 63 percent to 33 percent.

For those who picked a candidate on Tuesday, 50 percent went for Bush versus 42 percent for McCain. Those Virginia voters who decided in the last three days supported McCain slightly, 47 percent to 45 percent. Those voters who chose their candidate last week went for McCain 58 percent to 39 percent.

Asked who was most likely to win in November, 56 percent named Bush while 40 percent named McCain.

Asked to name the "real reformer," 25 percent said Bush, 22 percent gave the nod to McCain, 26 percent said both and 20 percent responded neither.

Asked whether Bush "knew enough" to be president, 71 percent said yes while 26 percent said no.

When asked to name the candidate who "says what he believes," Bush and McCain tied at 40 percent with 10 percent saying both and eight percent responding neither.