Exit Poll: Critical Clinton Wins – Latinos, Lunch Bucket Voters, Late Deciders Put Clinton on Top

ABC News – by Gary Langer – March 4, 2008 

Latinos, working-class voters, women and late deciders helped Hillary Clinton push back against Barack Obama’s recent winning streak, while some Texas and Ohio Republicans fired a warning shot at John McCain even as he clinched his party’s presidential nomination.

Latinos, Lunch Bucket Voters Put Clinton on Top

The Democratic races in these states were more closely fought, with demographics — more Latinos in Texas, more lunch bucket voters in Ohio — assisting Clinton after her string of losses since Feb. 9.

She also did well with late deciders, winning those who made up their minds in the final few days by 20 points in Ohio and 23 in Texas.

Latinos in Texas accounted for a record 30 percent of voters, up from 24 percent in 2004 — second only this cycle to New Mexico, and matching California — and they backed Clinton by 63-35 percent, crucial to her fortunes.

Obama hit back with 85 percent support from African-Americans, two in 10 Texas voters. And while Clinton won white women in Texas by 19 points, the two candidates split white men evenly.

Ohio was different; there Clinton won white men, a swing group in many Democratic primaries this year, by 59-38 percent.

That partly reflected the working-class nature of the state: Obama won white men who’ve been graduated from college, albeit by narrower-than-usual 51-47 percent; as elsewhere, Clinton won white men who don’t have a college degree, here by a wide 66-31 percent.

And those lacking a college education made up a greater share of white men in Ohio, 61 percent, than in Texas, 49 percent, or all primaries to date, 48 percent.

Familiar Change vs. Experience Theme

While the theme of change continued to resonate in Ohio and Texas, it wasn’t by as wide a margin as in most previous primaries.

The ability to “bring needed change” beat “experience” as the most important quality in a candidate by a 16-point margin in Ohio and by 17 points in Texas, 44-27 percent. Both had among the fewest to pick change as the top attribute in any primary this year.

It mattered, given the correlation of these views and vote preferences.

Obama won “change” voters by more than 2-1 margins in Texas and Ohio alike, while those more concerned with experience went for Clinton almost unanimously in both states.

If a contrast were needed, the two smaller states voting Tuesday, Vermont and Rhode Island, provided it.

Obama won across demographic groups in Vermont, beating Clinton among senior citizens as well as among white women, two of her mainstays.

There his change theme prevailed over experience by more than a 30-point margin, at the high end in primaries to date. In Rhode Island, though, Clinton won easily; there change beat experience by just 10 points, less than anywhere but Arkansas, and late deciders again went heavily to Clinton, by 62-37 percent.

Warning Signs for McCain

McCain lost few groups in Texas, but they were telling ones in terms of his challenges in the Republican base: the most religious and most conservative voters, and those looking mainly for a candidate who shares their values, all backed Mike Huckabee, and the two roughly split evangelicals.

McCain was comparatively weak among those same groups in Ohio. But Texas was tougher to him. There he lost values voters — the top candidate attribute in both states — by a wide 57-32 percent. And in Texas a substantial 45 percent in preliminary exit poll results classified him as “not conservative enough.”

As noted, there were challenges within McCain’s broader victory.

In Texas, Huckabee won those who attend church more than once a week, 29 percent of GOP voters, by 20 points, 56-36 percent. Evangelicals, a hefty 62 percent of Texas Republican voters, split 47-43 percent between Huckabee and McCain. And Huckabee won “very” conservative voters, a third of the electorate, by 8 points.

But McCain came back with broad leads among “somewhat” conservative and moderate Republicans. He won non-evangelicals by a huge margin, 63-21 percent.

He prevailed among less-frequent churchgoers, and won 81 percent of voters focused on the No. 2 attribute, experience. He also beat Huckabee by more than 2-1, 64-27 percent, among senior citizens, compared to an 11-point win among GOP voters younger than 65.

In Ohio McCain did better; he won “very” conservative voters, 51-41 percent.

And McCain came closer to Huckabee than usual among Ohio evangelicals, Huckabee’s mainstay, while winning non-evangelicals by nearly 50 points. But as in Texas, a candidate who “shares my values” was the most important attribute in Ohio, and Huckabee won them there, too, albeit by a closer 48-40 percent.

Democratic Turnout

At 19 percent, African-Americans didn’t increase their turnout in Texas, and it was well down from their 34 percent share in 1984, when Jesse Jackson ran. In Ohio, though, blacks’ 18 percent share was up from 14 percent in 2004; that aided Obama, albeit not enough.

Women increased their turnout in both states — to 59 percent in Ohio and 57 percent in Texas, up from 52 and 53 percent, respectively, in 2004. And Clinton won white women by more than 2-1 in Ohio, as well as by 59-40 percent in Texas.

The upscale/downscale division among white voters was striking. In both states Obama won college-educated white men, while Clinton won those who don’t have degrees. In both states Clinton won college-educated and non-college-educated white women alike, but won less-educated women by broader margins.

As previously there were huge generation gaps.

Clinton again easily won seniors, by 73-24 percent in Ohio and 64-34 percent in Texas, while voters under 30 went for Obama by 20 points in Texas and 26 points in Ohio.

In both states turnout among young voters was up from 2004, by seniors, down.

Seniors accounted for 13 percent of voters in Texas and 14 percent in Ohio, fewer than in most states this year. Interestingly, in Texas Obama came close to Clinton among Latinos under 30, losing them by 5 points in preliminary data, while she swamped him among older Latinos.

Also in both states, Clinton prevailed among mainline Democrats. Obama tied her among independents and Republicans voting in the open Democratic primary in Ohio, and won those groups in preliminary results in Texas.

It’s the Economy…Again

The economy was the top issue in Texas and Ohio alike, and most strikingly so in Ohio, where 59 percent of Democrats ranked it as the single most important issue, second only to Michigan in the importance of the economy to Democratic voters this year.

Almost eight in 10 in Ohio were worried about their family’s finances, 38 percent were “very” worried about it and voters there almost unanimously said the national economy is in bad shape. Slightly fewer in Texas were “very” worried about their own finances, 33 percent.

The exit poll indicated a smaller-than-previous turnout by union voters in Ohio — 35 percent were from union households, down from 44 percent in 2004.

At the same time it also found broad anti-trade sentiment: About eight in 10 said that trade with other countries takes more jobs from Ohio than it creates. Anti-trade sentiment was lower in Texas, with about six in 10 there saying trade takes jobs.

Whatever their candidate preference, Democratic voters had some greater criticism for Clinton than for Obama on negative campaigning — 54 percent in Ohio and 52 percent in Texas said Clinton attacked unfairly, while fewer than four in 10 both states said Obama did.

By about similar margins, however, more said Clinton, rather than Obama, offered “clear and detailed plans” to address the country’s problems.

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3 comments

  1. Look.

    Hillary Clinton won Texas. Not by Much. Could someone explain the term GREAT COMEBACK? When I played sports and my team had a 20point lead and we won by 3 points we use to call that Holding On. When my same team allowed the opponents to erase a 20 point lead and force overtime and my team wins by one. How is that considered a GREAT COMEBACK? In sports terms it we would call that a near choke. I wish the media would stop this flip flopping and get it right. If not they might have great careers at ESPN.

  2. What the Obama biased media fails to point out is the will of Michigan and Florida who DID have a primary and in which Hillary Won! She has EARNED it by taking New York, Texas, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Etc…. The Convention must honor the will of the States, not the cult-like following of Obama…

  3. This primary turned out exactly as I thought. With Obama being put on the defensive on so many issues on the eve of the primaries (I’d still like to know how such fortuitous timing was orchestrated), this was enough to sway the undecided voters.

    As an Obama supporter who always said that I will support Hillary if she gets the nomination, her win-at-all-costs tactics have bothered me so much that I don’t know how comfortable I’ll be supporting her, “at least as far as I know.” I’ve heard this from many Democrats, including those who voted for her in earlier primaries! She may be choosing a nasty but effective way to win current primaries, but she’s further alienating those of us who already voted and thought, at that time, she was a viable choice. Now she just seems like a terribly divisive force.

    So what does Obama need to do? First, diffuse the NAFTA debacle. He’s trying, but Hillary continues to make him sound sinister when she knows that her comments are baseless. Why would Barack make promises to the Canadian government? Are they eligible to vote in the primaries? Do they endorse American candidates? No. At this point, Barack is a candidate in the primaries and he has nothing to gain by making promises to the Canadians. The whole thing is ridiculous.

    He then needs to take the NAFTA argument away from Hillary. He needs to play her videotaped statement (check YouTube) that NAFTA has been an overall good law for the people of New York and the U.S. He needs to quote her book where she states that NAFTA was one of the crowning achievements of her husband’s administration. Her flip-flop on this issue is HUGE, but the media does not care. Maybe now that she’s picked up momentum, the media will cover this.

    He needs to make her explain her 35 years of public service. I’ve done the math. It doesn’t add up. Again, no media coverage.

    He needs to ask her how many times she’s answered the White House telephone at 3 am (while wearing her pant suit). Nothing in her experience, not even serving on any Senate committee, truly prepares her (or John McCain) for this. I don’t care what anyone says, this was a gross ad.

    Barack needs to start talking about foreign affairs. He needs to demonstrate, through his vastly superior intellect, that he knows what’s going on around the world, who the world leaders are, and what his plans are in certain regions. As for the experience argument that Hillary keeps making, he should play the clips of her husband (he never even served in the Senate) addressing this issue and thank him for his support.

    Tony Rezko. Frankly, I think Barack addressed the issue, although it will continue to haunt him. Lots of political candidates accepted donations from Rezko. He donated all campaign contributions from Rezko to charity. His campaign has not benefitted from this. Obama was never beholden to Rezko. In fact, when Rezko pushed for passage in Springfield of a major gambling measure, Obama vocally opposed it. He wasn’t perfect, however. The land deal with Rezko’s wife was, in Obama’s own words, “boneheaded.” At least he admitted it. I’m sure if Hillary did this she would deny it ever happened and complain it was some vast right wing conspiracy against her.

    Obama needs to show the posed picture with Hillary, Rezko and Bill. Have you ever had your picture taken with a president and his wife? I haven’t. That’s because you have to be an important fundraiser to get such an opportunity. Hillary’s attempt to brush it off as just another picture assumes that we’re pretty naive. While Clinton spokesperson Phil Singer claimed that Rezko never contributed to the Clintons, according to a database of campaign contributions maintained by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, Rezko made a $15,000 contribution to the Democratic National Committee in March 2000, the last year of the Clinton presidency. Rezko also made a $1,250 contribution during the Clinton re-election campaign in 1996 to a Democratic party account that funded activities in Illinois to help win the election.

    Finally, the most important issue in this campaign is the economy. Obama needs to aggressively address what he propses as a solution. The people need to hear his message.

    I hope Obama takes back the momentum and addresses these issues quickly. Sen. Clinton’s desperate ploys worked in this last series of primaries. He needs to set the record straight.

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