01/21/2012 06:09 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2012

South Carolina Primary Exit Polls 2011 Show Economy, 'Beating Obama' As Top Priorities

WASHINGTON — Early results of exit polls in South Carolina show that for most voters, the economy was the top issue when picking a Republican presidential candidate.

Around a third of them said Saturday that someone in their household has been laid off in the last three years.

The preliminary data also show that when it comes to the qualities of their candidate, nearly half want someone who can defeat President Barack Obama in this fall's elections.

The conservative viewpoint of many of the state's GOP voters was also clear. Solid majorities consider themselves conservative and around the same number support the tea party. And well more than half say they are born again or evangelical Christians.