EXIT POLLS: Economy Looms Over Obama-McCain Presidential Race

First-time voters: Nationally in 2004, first-time voters accounted for 11 percent of voters and were for Kerry over Bush, 53 percent to 46 percent. In Wisconsin, they accounted for about the same percent of voters, 10 percent, but were a much stronger group for Kerry than they were nationally, 58 percent to 41 percent. As those who'd voted previously divided evenly, 49 percent to 50 percent Kerry-Bush, first-time voters helped Kerry narrowly win the state. 

Voter Contact: Republicans have built a strategy around encouraging people to vote by mail but Wisconsin residents also can register and vote on Election Day. So keep an eye on how many voters were contacted directly by campaigns and on when they made up their minds. In 2004, Kerry fared better among the one in 10 who decided in the last three days -- 57 percent to Bush's 39 percent.


Religion: White evangelical voters made up 26 percent of the vote in 2004 and voted overwhelmingly for Bush. As an added encouragement for conservative Christians to vote this year, the ballot will include an anti-abortion rights measure that would define "the term 'person' to include any human being from the moment of fertilization."

Independents: In the last four presidential elections, about one-third of voters were unaffiliated with either party. They backed Bush in 2000 but swung to Kerry in 2004.

Hispanics: In 2004, they were 8 percent of the vote. In 2000, 14 percent. They've been heavily Democratic in the presidential voting here, but Republicans have been making inroads: Candidate Voted For

Dem Rep

1996 85 12

2000 68 25

2004 68 30

No Religion: In 2004, those with no religious affiliation accounted for 18 percent of voters and were for Kerry over Bush, 69 percent to 30 percent. This was their largest share of the vote in presidential elections since 1992, up four points from 2000 and 10 from 1996. (Nationally, they accounted for 10 percent of voters in 2004.) Democrats have averaged a 34-point advantage among this group since 1992 (about the same nationally, 37 percent). Their share of the Colorado vote and the direction of their vote may be interesting to watch. 

Under 30s: One of Obama's strongest groups, they made up 15 percent of the vote in Colorado in 2004 -- their lowest share of the vote in presidential elections since 1992 and down five points from 2000. (Nationally they've been 17 percent of the vote in the last three presidential elections.) They've been behind the Democratic candidate in each election since 1992. The largest Democratic advantage was in 1996, when Clinton won 49 percent to Dole's 39 percent. 

Educated People: In 2004, a little more than half of voters were college graduates, compared with 42 percent nationally. That included one in five who earned an advanced degree, one of Obama's best groups. As for educated white voters in particular, Kerry did better with them in Colorado than nationally. In 2004, white voters with no college education were for Bush 62 percent to 36 percent while whites with a college education split 47 percent to 51 percent, Bush-Kerry.

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