- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Exit polls of Wisconsin Democratic primary voters showed Sen. Barack Obama making further inroads to white, female and blue-collar voters who have been the support base for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Obama of Illinois split the female vote with Mrs. Clinton but edged her out in nearly every other demographic — setting the stage for competitive races in upcoming primaries in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In a state that is 85 percent white, Mr. Obama won among white men, 62 percent to 36 percent, and he led or matched Mrs. Clinton of New York with working-class and poor voters.

Mr. Obama still took the lion’s share of wealthy and educated voters, garnering support from two-thirds of voters with incomes surpassing $100,000 a year and from 56 percent of college graduates.

Mrs. Clinton continued to fare better with white women, winning slightly more than half. She also retained her lead among older women and older voters in general, capturing 61 percent of the over-65 vote, according to exit polls by MSNBC.

In the Republican contest, Sen. John McCain cruised to victory on the backs of moderate and liberal voters, who made up about 40 percent of Wisconsin’s Republican primary, according to the networks’ exit polls.

But Mr. McCain of Arizona again failed to win self-identified conservatives, only earning a tie with his chief competitor, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Mr. McCain has been dogged by his inability to win conservatives in state after state.

That was the one dark spot for Mr. McCain last night, as he romped in nearly every other demographic and political category.

He even won against frequent conservative talk-radio listeners, grabbing 56 percent of those voters, despite a steady diet of anti-McCain commentary from many of the best-known hosts.

Overall, more than three-quarters of Republican primary voters said they would be “satisfied” with Mr. McCain as their party’s nominee, better than the 64 percent who said they would be fine with Mr. Huckabee as their standard-bearer.

By contrast, Mr. Obama outpaced both of them, with 80 percent of Democratic primary voters saying they would be satisfied with him and 68 percent saying they would be OK with Mrs. Clinton carrying their party’s banner in November.

Democrats were more pessimistic about the state of the country. Only 10 percent of Democratic voters rated the economy as excellent or good, far less than the 39 percent of Republican primary voters who said the economy was in solid shape.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama faced off in Wisconsin over barely distinguishable health care plans and nearly identical economic plans.

They also traded jabs in TV ads. Mrs. Clinton accused her rival of ducking debates and Mr. Obama, true to his anti-establishment persona, fired back that it was “the same old politics of phony charges and false attacks.”

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