EXIT POLL: White Working-Class vs. Change in Indiana; Blacks Lift Obama to N.C. Victory

A sharply divided electorate made for a close contest in Indiana, where working-class whites and controversy over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright worked to Hillary Clinton's advantage, while liberals, new voters and the mantle of change boosted Barack Obama.

In North Carolina nearly unanimous support among African-Americans lifted Obama to an easy victory. It was the eighth state were blacks made up more than 30 percent of the voters, and he's won all eight of them.

Narrow Edge for Clinton in Indiana

Indiana was the closer race, and perhaps the more portentous one.

Even with Clinton's narrow victory, compunctions about her were widespread: Sixty-five percent said she'd attacked her opponent unfairly. (Four in 10 voted for her nonetheless.) A substantial 45 percent saw her as not honest and trustworthy. (A quarter of them voted for her anyway.) As elsewhere, bringing "needed change" was the most-desired candidate attribute; 51 percent of voters picked it, and they went to Obama by about his customary 40-point margin.

Obama drew new voters in Indiana, winning the one in five participating in their first primary by 22 points. He again won young voters by a wide margin. And he won liberals in the state by 57-43 percent, much better for Obama than the dead heat among liberals across previous primaries to date, including their 50-50 split in Pennsylvania two weeks ago.

While a socioeconomic gap continued, compared with Pennsylvania Clinton did 5 points less well, and Obama 5 points better, among whites with less than $50,000 in household incomes; there was a similar shift among middle income whites, together helping to draw the contest much closer than Clinton's 10-point Pennsylvania victory.

Wright was a new element; in Indiana nearly half of voters, 46 percent, called Obama's former minister an important factor in their vote, and they overwhelmingly favored Clinton, by 70-30 percent. Obama came back about as strongly, though, among those who said the issue wasn't important.

Additionally, Clinton won Indiana voters who made their choice in the last week, by 56-44 percent. She did less well among those who decided earlier.

Key in Indiana were working-class voters; 65 percent lacked a college degree, compared with an average of 53 percent in all primaries to date. While Obama tried to improve his appeal among working-class whites, the exit poll found a 64-35 percent Clinton advantage in this group in Indiana (and 71-26 percent in North Carolina); she won them by 61-32 percent in all previous primaries to date.

Continuing the same socioeconomic division that's marked the primaries all year, white college graduates divided evenly, 49-50 percent in Indiana, and 53-46 percent in North Carolina.

The Racial Divide

As noted, the racial makeup of the electorates themselves played a major role. Blacks accounted for 34 percent of North Carolina voters and 91 percent of them supported Obama. Against that voting bloc Clinton would have needed 70 percent of non-black voters; she fell well short, with 59 percent.

Obama also won nine in 10 blacks in Indiana. They accounted for 18 percent of voters there – far fewer than in North Carolina, but a record nonetheless for Indiana, surpassing 15 percent in 1988.

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