Thursday, February 7, 2008

Exit polls from Super Tuesday contests show that the Democratic Party’s two remaining presidential candidates split votes among class, age, sex and race.

“Barack Obama continued to do well among voters who are younger, better-educated and wealthier; he solidified his support among African-Americans; and he ran strongly among men, including white men,” said William A. Galston, a senior fellow for governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Using Tuesday’s results as a gauge for upcoming matchups, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York is expected to do well among working-class voters, less-educated Americans, those 45 and older, white women, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois can count on male and female blacks, voters younger than 40 and white men.

Mrs. Clinton’s strength among white women solidified her victories.

She took 73 percent of white female votes in Alabama, 57 percent in Georgia, 56 percent in California, 59 percent in Missouri and 73 percent in Tennessee.

She dominated the Hispanic vote in almost every state where it was measurable — including 62 percent of Hispanic men and 71 percent of Hispanic women in California, 49 percent and 59 percent in Arizona, and 56 percent and 65 percent in New Mexico.

Mrs. Clinton prevailed with Asian-American voters in California as well, with 71 percent supporting her. That bodes well for her in states with considerable Asian-American populations, such as Washington and Oregon. In Hawaii, where Mr. Obama was born and his family still lives, voters could negate her advantage.

Mrs. Clinton had a decisive advantage with poor, less-educated voters, while Mr. Obama had the edge with educated and wealthy voters.

Mr. Obama received considerable support from white men, even in states he lost. He received 45 percent of the white male vote in Arizona, 55 percent in California, 49 percent in Massachusetts, 59 percent in New Mexico and 43 percent in New York.

In the Deep South, he struggled to capture white men’s votes except in Georgia, where he received 48 percent. His numbers among blacks have been above 70 percent consistently and helped carry him to victory in Alabama and Georgia.

Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama went to Mr. Obama with record-high Democratic turnout. In Georgia and South Carolina, Democratic participation exceeded that of the Republicans.

Almost 57 percent of the black vote is in the South. If Mr. Obama can hold on to the white male vote, he could open that region of the country to Democrats for the first time in decades.

But Mr. Galston said Democrats likely won’t see Super Tuesday results as a sign that Mr. Obama can win in the South during a general election.

“The Southern states have been so strongly Republican for so long that the best guess is that most of them will remain off-limits to a Democratic nominee no matter who it is, but that doesn’t mean all of them will,” he said.

He added that Arkansas always has been competitive for Democrats and a political shift makes Virginia competitive.

“But I would be surprised if we were having a conversation after November about a shift in states like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” Mr. Galston said.

The backbone of Mr. Obama’s success is the support of young voters.

In states he won, such as Alabama, 66 percent of voters ages 18 to 24 supported him, and those numbers were consistent up until age 64, where he lost support to Mrs. Clinton, who received 61 percent of that vote.

Mrs. Clinton cut into that vote in states she won, such as California, where she pulled even with Mr. Obama among all age groups.

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