EXIT POLL: Critical Clinton Wins

Latinos, working-class voters, women and late deciders helped Hillary Clinton push back against Barack Obama's recent winning streak, while some Texas and Ohio Republicans fired a warning shot at John McCain even as he clinched his party's presidential nomination.

Latinos, Lunch Bucket Voters Put Clinton on Top

The Democratic races in these states were more closely fought, with demographics -- more Latinos in Texas, more lunch bucket voters in Ohio -- assisting Clinton after her string of losses since Feb. 9.

She also did well with late deciders, winning those who made up their minds in the final few days by 18 points in Ohio and 23 in Texas.

Latinos in Texas accounted for a record 34 percent of voters, up from 24 percent in 2004 -- second only this cycle to New Mexico -- and they backed Clinton by 67-31 percent, crucial to her fortunes.

Obama hit back with 83 percent support from African-Americans, two in 10 Texas voters. And while Clinton won white women in Texas by 21 points, the two candidates split white men evenly.

Ohio was different; there Clinton won white men, a swing group in many Democratic primaries this year, by 58-39 percent.

That partly reflected the working-class nature of the state: Obama won white men who've been graduated from college, albeit by narrower-than-usual 52-45 percent; as elsewhere, Clinton won white men who don't have a college degree, here by a wide 66-31 percent.

And those lacking a college education made up a greater share of white men in Ohio, 60 percent, than in Texas, 48 percent, or all primaries to date, also 48 percent.

Familiar Change vs. Experience Theme

While the theme of change continued to resonate in Ohio and Texas, it wasn't by as wide a margin as in most previous primaries.

The ability to "bring needed change" beat "experience" as the most important quality in a candidate by a 17-point margin in Ohio and by 15 points in Texas, 43-28 percent. Both had among the fewest to pick change as the top attribute in any primary this year.

It mattered, given the correlation of these views and vote preferences.

Obama won "change" voters by more than 2-1 margins in Texas and Ohio alike, while those more concerned with experience went for Clinton almost unanimously in both states.

If a contrast were needed, the two smaller states voting Tuesday, Vermont and Rhode Island, provided it.

Obama won across demographic groups in Vermont, beating Clinton among senior citizens as well as among white women, two of her mainstays.

There his change theme prevailed over experience by more than a 30-point margin, at the high end in primaries to date. In Rhode Island, though, Clinton won easily; there change beat experience by just 10 points, less than anywhere but Arkansas, and late deciders again went heavily to Clinton, by 62-37 percent.

Warning Signs for McCain

McCain lost few groups in Texas, but they were telling ones in terms of his challenges in the Republican base: the most religious and most conservative voters, evangelicals and those looking mainly for a candidate who shares their values, all backed Mike Huckabee.

McCain was comparatively weak among those same groups in Ohio. But Texas was tougher to him. There he lost values voters -- the top candidate attribute in both states -- by a wide 59-30 percent. And in Texas a substantial 44 percent in preliminary exit poll results classified him as "not conservative enough."

As noted, there were challenges within McCain's broader victory.

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