Obama has won some Southern states where his weakness with white voters was overwhelmed by African-American turnout. In Kentucky, however, blacks accounted for just 9 percent of voters, again similar to West Virginia and a far cry from, for example, their 50 percent share in Alabama and Mississippi.
Blacks made up even fewer voters in Oregon, 3 percent.
Compared with Kentucky, working-class whites accounted for many fewer voters in Oregon, just over half of whites there. Many more independents voted in Oregon, 26 percent compared to 11 percent in Kentucky, and Obama did particularly well with Oregon independents, winning them by 68-32 percent. (He also did much better with Kentucky independents, a 7-point loss, compared with his 38-point defeat among mainline Democrats there.)
Obama did better in Kentucky – if not particularly well – with some of his other core groups. He lost voters there under age 30 by 13 points, while losing seniors by 60 points; and he lost postgraduates by 17 points, while losing high school graduates by 53 points. He did particularly well with younger and better-educated voters in Oregon, winning them by 42 and 32 points, respectively.
There also was a striking ideological gap: Fifty-seven percent in Oregon identified themselves as liberals, matched or exceeded only in a handful of primary states to date, and Obama won them by 61-39 percent.
Far fewer were liberals in Kentucky, 37 percent. But this didn't explain the outcome there: Clinton won liberals in Kentucky by 24 points, a very wide margin even if less than her more than 2-1 advantage among moderates and 4-1 among conservatives.
Following the education gaps, economic concerns were far higher in Kentucky (where two-thirds called the economy the top issue in their vote) than in Oregon (45 percent).
A fair question is why Clinton won so convincingly in Kentucky (as in West Virginia) despite all the political obituaries written about her campaign in the last few weeks. One reason is the antipathy those voters expressed about Obama. Another is the fact that most by far made up their minds long ago: More than seven in 10 said they decided on a candidate more than a month ago – far more than in previous primaries this year. (Across all primaries to date, only 47 percent made up their minds so early.) However, Clinton won by wide margins whenever Kentucky voters decided.
Even with her win in Kentucky, there were problems for Clinton.
More than half said they think Obama – not Clinton – will be the eventual Democratic nominee. And as in earlier states more again saw Clinton rather than Obama as an unfair campaigner. Many more in Oregon than in Kentucky said they think Obama will be the nominee – 78 percent – and voters there were yet more critical of Clinton's campaign style.
As elsewhere, moreover, supporting the candidate who can "bring needed change" was the No. 1 attribute to Kentucky voters, and Obama won them, by 10 points, 54-44 percent. Clinton, though, won by a vast 73 points, 84-11 percent, among voters who placed more importance on other attributes. In Oregon, by contrast, Obama won change voters not by 10 points, but by 68 points, 84-16 percent, among his biggest margins on this question to date.