Michigan GOP Makes Mitt Romney's Night

Their vote choice has differed since Iowa: In Michigan, surprisingly, Romney narrowly beat Huckabee among evangelicals, 34 percent to 29 percent, with 23 percent for McCain. In New Hampshire evangelicals divided evenly among all three. In Iowa, by contrast, Huckabee won 46 percent of evangelicals, way ahead of Romney's 19 percent.

Religion remains an important factor in the Republican contest, a wildcard in races ahead. Among Michigan voters who said it mattered "a great deal" that a candidate shares their religious beliefs -- a quarter of the total -- Huckabee won with 37 percent support. Among those who said it mattered, but just somewhat, his support plummeted to 16 percent; among those who said it didn't matter, 4 percent.

The Democratic Race

Noteworthy in the Democratic race were the groups that Hillary Clinton did not win, given that she was the only major candidate on the ballot: African-Americans (30 percent for Clinton, 68 percent uncommitted), independents (37-51), young adults (43-48 among those under 30), higher-income voters (44-50 among $100K plus), postgraduates (44-50) and single men (44-48).

Indeed it was not quite a blowout among all men, with 51 percent for Clinton, 43 percent uncommitted. All have been better groups for Barack Obama.

But more broadly, the Democratic contest is virtually unreadable; given a dispute between the state and national parties over the primary's timing, Obama and John Edwards stayed off the ballot. None of the candidates campaigned, and no delegates were at stake.

The level of the "uncommitted" vote could be taken by some as an expression of anti-Clintonism among people who took the trouble to turn out to cast a symbolic vote against her; on the other hand, it could be that many showed up expecting to see Obama or Edwards on the ballot, and took "uncommitted" as the only alternative.

A question on the exit poll asked Democratic voters who they'd have supported if all the candidates had been listed; Clinton got 46 percent to Obama's 35 percent. But that could have been distorted by the number of Obama or Edwards voters who did know their candidates weren't listed, and so stayed home. All told, tough to read.

Aftershocks of the Bush Administration

The Bush administration was not broadly popular among GOP voters in Michigan: Nearly half say they're dissatisfied or even angry about the administration. (It was about the same, 49 percent, among Republican primary voters in New Hampshire.) Nonetheless, six in 10 Republican voters in Michigan approve of the war in Iraq.

Vote choices in these groups underscore a dichotomy in McCain's support profile. He's the candidate who's most strongly supported the Iraq War and perhaps most closely aligned himself with the Bush administration. Yet his support peaks among opposite groups – those who strongly oppose the war and who are angry with the administration. That underscores the source of his support, more from independents and moderates.

Values Voters

On attributes, picking a candidate who "shares my values" topped the list for Republicans, cited by 44 percent; straight-talking -- "says what he believes" -- follows, cited by 27 percent; 22 percent cited experience, with electability in the single digits.

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