The tough tone of the Pennsylvania Democratic campaign tarnished both candidates -- more so Hillary Clinton, with 67 percent of voters saying she attacked Barack Obama unfairly.
Yet it appears to have worked: Late deciders favored Clinton by a wide margin, boosting her to an essential victory in the state.
Clinton beat Obama by 59-41 percent among voters who decided in the last few days, countering his equally large edge among those who picked their candidate between a week and a month ago. It was the sixth primary in a row in which she won late-choosing voters.
Other support groups were crucial for Clinton: Women accounted for 58 percent of voters, a record for Pennsylvania primaries (though about what it's been elsewhere this year), and she won them by 59-41 percent; she won white women even more broadly, by 68-32 percent.
Clinton again won seniors, this time by 63-37 percent. And she won voters who haven't been through college by a bigger-than-usual 58-42 percent margin.
Obama countered with broad support in Philadelphia (66-34 percent over Clinton) and a 4-point better showing among white men, a swing group in these primaries, than he managed in Ohio, which Clinton won March 4.
But Obama still lost white men, by 14 points. (He split men overall with Clinton, 51-49 percent.)
Obama also won 90 percent of African-Americans. But at 15 percent, their turnout was lower than the Pennsylvania primary record, 17 percent in 1988 and 1984.
In a difference from supposedly similar Ohio, 47 percent of Pennsylvania voters were college graduates -- usually a better group for Obama -- compared with just 38 percent in Ohio. But college graduates divided by a close 51-49 percent between Obama and Clinton, compared to his 9-point advantage in this group across all primaries to date.
Another difference strongly favored Clinton: White Catholics accounted for an unusually large share of voters -- 32 percent, vs. 16 percent in previous primaries this year -- and they favored her by a very wide 72-28 percent, a gap that's appeared in some previous contests (e.g., New Jersey and Rhode Island) but not most.
One reason is that white Catholics in Pennsylvania were less apt to hold college degrees -- again reflecting Clinton's better showing among less-educated voters.
While two-thirds of voters said Clinton attacked Obama unfairly, 50 percent also said Obama unfairly attacked Clinton. Both numbers were higher than in previous primaries overall -- by 15 points for Clinton and 12 for Obama -- reflecting the negative tone of the campaign's closing days.
However, voters who said Obama attacked unfairly were more apt to punish him for it: Clinton won those voters by 67-33 percent; of those who said Clinton attacked unfairly, Obama won by a narrower 54-46 percent.
For many voters, moreover, it didn't matter; more than usual decided early. Sixty-one percent said they picked their candidate more than a month ago, compared with 45 percent in previous primaries this year.
Yet as noted, those who did decide late went for Clinton, reversing Obama's edge among those who decided in the previous week to a month.