EXIT POLLS: Economy Looms Over Obama-McCain Presidential Race


Pennsylvania is one state contested until the very last minute, with the McCain campaign putting in extra time during the waning days of the campaign in hopes of turning this blue state red. And preliminary exit poll data indicates there were voters still to be converted: About one in 10 state voters say they made their minds up in the past three days. The ongoing discussion about whether some white voters might be influenced in their vote choice by Obama's race also centered on Pennsylvania, thanks to comments by Obama and some Pennsylvania politicians. In this preliminary exit poll, a quarter of voters said race was a factor in their vote. African-American voters were twice as likely as white voters to say it was an important factor.

White Catholics: They'd been a reliable Democratic group here until Bush lured them away from Kerry in 2004. They were 30 percent of the vote in that election and Bush won them by four points, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Clinton voters: Obama lost big here, by nearly 10 points, in the Democratic primary. But he managed to bring most of them back home, winning strong support from Clinton supporters. Eight in 10 of them stayed with Obama, according to preliminary exit poll data.

Race: Overall, 16 percent said race was an important factor in their vote, but African American voters were much more likely than whites to say so. Among whites who said race was a factor in their votes, McCain's lead was ? 53 percent to Obama's 47 percent.

Rural: When Obama made his comments this spring about small towns, where "bitter" economically distressed voters cling to guns and religion, he was talking about small towns in Pennsylvania. Republicans have been throwing those comments back in Obama's face ever since. That hasn't stopped the Democrat from fighting hard to recruit new voters and gin up support in these usually rock-solid Republican rural areas in Pennsylvania and in other states. Obama has his work cut out for him: Kerry lost rural areas here by 21 points to Bush, 39 percent to 60 percent.

White Men: Obama made inroads among white men, running even with McCain there. Kerry and Gore both lost white men by double digits.

Time of Decision: Obama was buoyed by early strength, securing a significant lead -- 58 to 42 percent -- among those who decided last week or earlier. McCain closed well, winning among those who waited until last three days to choose a candidate, by 52 to Obama's 46 percent. It was not enough.

Party ID: Obama did well among key political independents ? winning by 20 points. He also held nine in 10 Democrats ? somewhat better than John Kerry, Al Gore or Bill Clinton.


White Women: Bush did better with women here in 2004 than he did nationally. When white women voted Democratic, in 1992 and 1996, this state went blue. When white women voted Republican, in 1988, 2000 and 2004, this state went red. Which way will they swing this year?

White Evangelical: They were 35 percent of the vote in 2004, compared with 23 percent nationally. Numbers like that this year will be good news for McCain.

Working Class: Working class whites, those earning less than $50,000 a year, have sided with the Missouri winner in the last five presidential elections.

Age: One-fifth of the voters in 2004 were 18-29 -- nearly double the proportion of those older than 65. This year, at least 150,000 new young voters have been added to the rolls here.

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