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

Clinton won white men in Indiana by 58-42 percent, and in North Carolina by 55-42 percent, both better than her total across all primaries this year, an essentially even 47-46 percent. However, she's done as well with white men in some states before, including 57-43 percent in Pennsylvania and 58-39 percent in Ohio.

Indeed, race largely eclipsed sex as a factor in vote preferences: Clinton won white men and women by similar margins in both states; Obama, ditto.

Clinton had a broad advantage -- 66-34 percent over Obama -- among rural and small town voters in Indiana, who accounted for one in six voters. That was just below her previous bests in this group, in Tennessee, Arkansas and Ohio. But Obama won in mid-sized and larger cities by a broad 61-39 percent, better than his usual.

Another result, mirroring one in Pennsylvania, indicated a small but negative impact of racially motivated voting.

Thirteen percent of white voters in Indiana and 14 percent in North Carolina called race an important factor in their vote; these voters were much less apt than others to say they'd support Obama against John McCain in November. It's a small group, but small groups can matter in close contests.

Sitting Out the Vote in November

Among those voters, in Indiana just 49 percent said they'd support Obama against McCain; the rest said they'd take McCain or sit it out.

By contrast, among the large majority of whites who said race was not an important factor, 67 percent said they'd support Obama in the general election. (The divisions in North Carolina were similar, 46 and 64 percent, respectively.)

It's an open question whether white voters who called race important -- overwhelmingly Clinton supporters now -- would ultimately come around to Obama were he the nominee.

At the same time, as noted, Obama benefited from a surge of new voters; 19 percent in North Carolina said it was their first time voting in a primary, and they favored him by a vast 69-28 percent. As many (22 percent) were first-time voters in Indiana, and he won them there as well, by a closer but still-wide 61-39 percent.

On Wright, any impact of the controversy might have been mitigated by early decision-making.

In North Carolina, 79 percent made up their minds before last week, when the debate over Obama's ex-minister heightened; in Indiana, 75 percent were early deciders – in both cases, more early deciders than usual, 67 percent across all primaries to date. In North Carolina, early deciders -- disproportionately African-Americans -- favored Obama by a 58-40 percent margin.

As in other recent contests since Obama took the frontrunner's mantle, Clinton again did better among late deciders -- losing them by 6 points in North Carolina and winning them, as noted, by a substantial margin in Indiana. She also won support from some of her customary support groups in Indiana, including more than a 2-1 advantage among seniors, while Obama won under-30 voters there by 24 points.

It's the Economy (and Attacks)...Again

Economic concerns were particularly high; two-thirds in Indiana said the economy was the single most important issue in their vote, the highest in any primary to date.

Six in 10 picked it as the top issue in North Carolina. Forty-five percent in Indiana also said the current economic slowdown has affected them "a great deal"; 40 percent reported that much of an impact in North Carolina.

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