Republican Roy Blunt rolled up solid majorities among Missouri's male voters and people disenchanted with the federal government to win election to the U.S. Senate, an exit poll showed.
Nearly six in 10 men sided with Blunt, a veteran congressman who even managed a slight edge among women voters in his defeat of Robin Carnahan, the Democratic secretary of state.
Blunt also drew strong backing from self-described independents, according to findings from a survey of 2,511 Missouri voters surveyed Tuesday by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks in a random sample of 40 statewide precincts.
About three in 10 voters said they were neither Democrats nor Republicans. Of those, nearly six in 10 went with Blunt.
He also was backed by roughly six out in 10 voters living in rural communities and small cities. Among those who said government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, the Republican from Springfield collected more than three times more votes than Carnahan.
Seven in 10 voters who expressed a negative opinion about the federal government sided with Blunt.
"He's more amenable to reducing the size of the federal government and making the hard choices to make sure we don't spend more than we take in," said Larry Schmidt, a 62-year-old retired postal worker and U.S. Army veteran from Columbia.
White evangelical Christians and voters whose annual family income exceeds $50,000 also sided with Blunt by wide margins. Carnahan was favored by voters in labor union households and those who believe Congress should spend more money to create jobs.
More than six in 10 voters said the economy was the most important issue, more than the combined totals for immigration, health care and the war in Afghanistan.
Blunt supporter Lynette Hunter, 61, commutes nearly 45 minutes each way from rural Sweet Springs to her job at the Sedalia Walmart, while her husband, a lifelong farmer, drives an equal distance each day. They do most of their shopping in Sedalia or Marshall, 25 miles from home.
"We don't have anything here," she said. "It's all dried up."
Nearly six in 10 voters said they disapproved of President Barack Obama's job performance. About eight of every 10 voters in that group preferred Blunt.
Carnahan did well among voters with annual family incomes of $30,000 or less, while her opponent received more support among voters earning $100,000 to $199,000. Carnahan also scored high among voters younger than 30, with Blunt seeing strong support among voters older than 65.
More than half said that Blunt, who was first elected to Congress in 1996, has been in office too long. But even within that group, he still managed to collect more than one in five votes.
William Oxandale, a 78-year-old retired U.S. government worker in suburban St. Louis, voted for Carnahan because she has "been in state government, and I think she deserves a chance to go to Washington. She'd be a fresh, new face."
Blunt carried whites by nearly 2-to-1, while Carnahan had a 9-to-1 majority among blacks.
About four in 10 voters supported the tea party movement. They overwhelmingly backed Blunt, who also won a slight majority among those describing themselves as neutral about the tea party. Carnahan was favored by the one-in-three voters who opposed the movement.
Roughly half of voters said the tea party was not a factor in their vote.
Carnahan picked up strong support from voters who believed their family would be better off or would not be affected under the new health care law. Those who said they would be worse off overwhelmingly favored Blunt.
Results were subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The sampling error is higher for subgroups.
Methodology details: http:surveys.ap.org/exitpolls