About a quarter of voters said the ability to beat President Bush was the candidate quality that mattered most. Among those voters, about 80 percent favored Sen. John Kerry.
Kerry won easily almost everywhere, from the urban areas and suburbs to the rural areas of northern Missouri and the Bootheel. In southwest Missouri, Kerry and Sen. John Edwards ran about even.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean did best among voters 44 and younger, getting about 16 percent of the vote. But Kerry still won that age group with about 45 percent. Kerry got nearly 30 percent of the vote of those aged 30 to 44. Kerry was strongest among voters 65 and older -- about one-quarter of all Missouri voters -- with about 60 percent of their vote.
Kerry did equally well among men and women, with about half of each vote.
About 15 percent of voters were black, and about half supported Kerry. The Rev. Al Sharpton, the only black candidate and a frequent activist in St. Louis area protests, was second among blacks with about 15 percent of the vote.
Nearly half of the Democratic primary voters said their financial situation was worse today than four years ago, four-in-10 said it was about the same, and just 10 percent said it was better. Kerry and Edwards drew similar support among those in better financial shape.
About 20 percent of voters said they belonged to a labor union, and nearly 60 percent of union members supported Kerry.
Missouri Democratic primary voters were nearly evenly split between those who called themselves liberals and moderates, with both groups making up about two-fifths of the vote. Kerry carried more than half of the vote from each group.
About half of voters called themselves Protestants or other Christians, while about a quarter said they were Catholic. Kerry, who is Roman Catholic, was favored by about half of Protestants/other Christians and by about 60 percent of Catholics.
About half of Missouri Democratic primary voters made their voting decision within the past week, and half of them went with Kerry. Among the four-in-10 who decided in the last month or longer, about 55 percent favored Kerry.
WAR IN IRAQ
About three-fifths of Missouri Democratic primary voters disapprove of the decision to go to war in Iraq. Among those who disapprove, more than half supported Kerry.
Exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International among 1,378 Missouri Democratic primary voters as they left precincts Tuesday. Margin of sampling error plus or minus 4 percentage points for the overall sample, larger for subgroups.