Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Clinton repeats big rural success in Ind.; in rural N.C., where many voters are black, Obama wins

A huge margin among rural voters helped Sen. Hillary Clinton post an early lead in the Indiana presidential primary tonight, but Sen. Barack Obama edged her out among the much larger number of rural voters in North Carolina on the way to a big victory in that state, which has more rural residents than any other. (Photo of Obama in Raleigh by The Associated Press)

In the North Carolina exit poll by Edison Mitofsky Research, 46 percent of voters were defined as rural, and Obama won them, 50 percent to 44 percent. He carried suburbs 53-44 and urban areas 66-32. Among the one-fifth of voters in the Indiana exit poll who live in rural areas, Clinton won 70 percent of the vote. She carried suburbs 54-46 and Obama won urban areas 62-38. But a third of the voters in North Carolina were African Americans, many of them in rural areas, primarily the eastern third of the state, and they favored Obama 91 to 6. The black vote went likewise in Indiana, but was only 15 percent of the total and very little of it was rural. Obama "weeks ago gave up hopes of victory in Indiana, with its mostly white population scattered in small towns and rural areas," writes Jackie Calmes of The Wall Street Journal. (Read more; subscription required)

Race and rurality aside, the big predictors in the Indiana result were age and education. Clinton won voters over 40, Obama those under 40. College education was two sides of the same coin: Degree holders chose Obama 56-44, while the non-graduates favored Clinton by the same margin. Among those who went to college but got no degree, Clinton won 56-43. Divided by whether they had been to college at all, the voters split 50-50. In North Carolina, education made little if any difference, reflecting the larger number of African American voters.

Among the 10 percent of Indiana voters who are white and said race was important in their choice, 79 percent voted for Clinton. Among the 15 percent who said gender of the candidate was important, two-thirds of them women, 62 percent voted for Clinton. Among the 44 percent who defined themselves as moderates, Clinton won 53-46. Among the 23 percent who said they are independents, Obama won 53-47. Among the 11 percent who are Republicans, Clinton won 53-45.

In North Carolina, race was important to 17 percent of voters, about evenly divided between white and black. Those blacks chose Obama by 93 to 6 and the whites chose Clinton by 60-35 -- the same result found among the slightly more than half of whites who said race was not important. Twenty percent of Tar Heel voters said gender was important, and Obama won 53 percent of them, carrying both men and women in that group -- indicating that while they said gender was important, it was not a deciding factor for most. The result may also reflect a resistance among Southern rural voters, black and white, to a woman as commander in chief.

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