ANALYSIS: White Men Boost Obama; McCain Wins Amid Doubts Over Conservative Cred

GOP voters seek shared values; Dems want "change."

ByABC News
February 12, 2008, 5:55 PM

Feb. 13, 2008 — -- Sen. Barack Obama rode support from white men to strong victories in the Virginia and Maryland Democratic primaries, while Sen. John McCain prevailed in both states but still faced Republican doubts, particularly in Virginia, about his conservative credentials.

Underscoring a continued challenge for McCain, 49 percent of Virginia GOP voters and 41 percent in Maryland described him as "not conservative enough." That rose to about six in 10 conservatives in both states.

He found salve in the fact that three-quarters said they'd be satisfied with him as the party's nominee -- though fewer, 46 percent in Virginia and 44 percent in Maryland, said they'd be very satisfied, and this again was lower among conservatives.

On the Democratic side, Obama won white men in Maryland and Virginia alike. He won 84 and 90 percent of blacks, the latter among his highest margins in that group; they accounted for 37 percent of Maryland voters and 30 percent in Virginia. And Obama narrowly won the few Hispanic voters in Virginia; he'd won Hispanics just once before, in Connecticut.

Obama's overall vote margins in the two states were his widest, outside his home state of Illinois, in any primary where fewer than four in 10 voters were African-Americans. He won women in both states, something he's done outside states with larger black turnout only in Delaware, Iowa and his home state of Illinois. Indeed, in Virginia, Clinton won white women by a scant 6-point margin; she won them by 18 points in Maryland.

As elsewhere the "change" theme was powerful for Obama: Fifty-six in Maryland and 57 percent in Virginia said the top attribute they were seeking in a candidate was the one who can best "bring about needed change." They favored him by a vast 83-16 percent in Virginia and 80-18 percent in Maryland.

Again in both states, Obama also won voters most concerned either with empathy -- "cares about people like me" -- or electability in November. He won "electability" voters by 15 points in Maryland and by a remarkable 43 points in Virginia, his best margin to date among voters focused on this attribute.