EXIT POLLS: Economy Looms Over Obama-McCain Presidential Race

Suburbs:More than half the electorate lived in the suburbs in 2004 and the final statewide vote nearly matched how the 'burbs voted. In the last two elections, suburbanites have gone for Bush by four-point margins (52 percent to 48 percent in 2004 and 51 percent to 47 percent in 2000). The margin of Bush's wins has been seven points (2004) and three points (2000). Also worth noting, voters from pro-Republican rural areas were double the size of the group from pro-Democratic rural areas in 2004.

New Hampshire

Independents: Independents rule in the Granite State. They were 44 percent of the vote in the last election, compared with 26 percent in the national poll. Whether McCain's maverick brand helps him win these free thinkers may be the key to New Hampshire. This was the only state Bush won in 2000 but lost in 2004, largely because he went from a 4 percent deficit among independents in 2000 (47 percent to 43 percent) to 14 points (56 percent to 42 percent).

The Mods: Since 1996 moderate voters have held steady at about half the electorate and Obama will need them. Like independents, they broke for Kerry in 2004 -- by 15 points.

Hillary Clinton: Near the start of the endless primary season, Hillary Clinton won this state in the primaries, albeit by a narrow 39 percent to 37 percent margin. This state has been good to McCain in the past so watch whether Clinton voters stick with the Democratic Party.

Post-Grads: Voters with post-graduate degrees have been among Obama's most reliable supporters. In past elections they've been a bigger factor here than average: 22 percent of the vote in 2004, compared with 16 percent in the national poll.

White Catholics: They've been declining in numbers in the state and they voted for Bush but they were still 38 percent of the vote in 2004.

Polls Closing at 9 p.m. ET


Party ID: The state hasn't voted Republican in a presidential election since it supported Richard Nixon in 1972. But since then an increasing proportion of voters has identified themselves as Republican -- up to 35 percent of the vote in 2004, just three points from parity with Democrats.

Race: The state is lily white (93 percent in 2004 and 96 percent in the two elections before that.) So if Obama wins it will have to be by attracting white votes.

White Women: They've been increasingly conservative since Bill Clinton left office. Just about half voted Republican in 2004. But pre-election polls showed them swinging back toward the Democrats.

New Voters: They were a big factor in 2004, with one in 10 voting for the first time and -- by a 3-2 ratio -- they voted Democratic.


Party ID: Republicans increased their share of voters by six points from 2000 to 2004, 32 percent to 38 percent. Over the same time, Democrats went from 37 percent to 35 percent, and independents from 31 percent to 27 percent. With partisans breaking about 90-10 for their candidate in the past two elections, continued increased turnout among Republicans could be critical in a state that's been closely contested the past two presidential elections. 

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