Posted: February 5, 2008 11:12 PM
Economy, Iraq Continues to Weigh on Democratic Voter
Exit polls from Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses show that the economy topped the list of issues that voters were concerned about going into the polls. Of Democratic voters, about 50 percent named the economy as the most important issue facing the country, according to the Associated Press, while 30 percent chose the war in Iraq.
When deciding which candidate to choose, almost half of those voters who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, said that it was important for the nominee to have the right experience. But of those who voted for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., three-fourths wanted a candidate who “can bring about needed change,” the AP reported.
Nationally, half of Democrats wanted a candidate who would change the course of the country, while about a quarter voted for a candidate with experience — predictably with support going to Obama and Clinton, respectively.
But the polls also showed some digression from the trends seen in early primaries. Obama cut down Clinton’s lead among women and white voters, two groups that helped boost her wins in earlier contests. Obama earned about four in 10 white and female votes, aided by a surge of support from people under 44 — a demographic he has consistently won.
However, Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of the National Journal’s Hotline, notes that this issue is complicated by the fact that females make up a larger percentage of Democratic primary voters than. “Her margin over Barack Obama among women is actually smaller than his margin over among men over her, but it doesn’t matter when they make up almost 60 percent of the electorate,” Walter said.
Obama also maintained his advantage with both male and black voters. In Georgia, where over half of the electorate is black, the Illinois senator earned their overwhelming support — about 90 percent — while 60 percent of whites voted for Clinton. About 6 in 10 Hispanics nationally, however, favored Clinton, including large support from Hispanic women.
Endorsements played a mixed role in swaying votes. Notably, the Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., factor, which many analysts had predicted would provide Obama with a significant boost, seemed to have a bigger impact outside of the senator’s home state of Massachusetts, where Clinton took the primary. “It wasn’t able to deliver [Obama],” Walter said.
Demonstrative of the near even split between Clinton and Obama, just over half of voters for each candidate said that they would be satisfied if the other won. Many voters had still not made their decision about whom to vote for until the last few days, with one in 10 deciding on Tuesday.