Obama’s Demographic Breakthrough
Posted on Feb 13, 2008
Exit polls, those surveys of voters as they leave their polling places, should be taken with a grain of salt. Having said that, CNN’s exit poll data from the so-called Potomac Primary shows Barack Obama crossing the demographic divide that has hampered him throughout the race. Seniors, white people, working-class voters and women—all traditional supporters of the Clinton campaign—came out for Obama in big numbers.
That could be a real test of whether Obama’s momentum can translate to victory. The Clinton campaign’s strategy is to hold the line in Ohio and Texas, where lower income voters, Hispanics and other Clinton allies can help her win. If those groups waver in their support, Obama could win those states, or at least remain competitive. He is currently running behind Clinton by a significant margin in polls of those states. But Clinton, it has been argued by more than a handful of pundits and even a few anonymous supporters, doesn’t just have to win Ohio and Texas, she has to win big.
Obama was expected to poll well among young voters, independents and African-Americans, and he did—taking 60 to 70 percent of the votes in the first two groups and nearly 90 percent of black voters, the polls suggest.
But he also was edging out Clinton among voters 65 and older, blue-collar workers and women, all groups that Clinton was counting on as the core of her support.
Early exit polling by CNN was done with a sample of 1,246 Democratic voters in Virginia. Among those polled, Obama was winning with 62 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 37 percent. In Maryland, 1,245 voters were polled, and Obama won among them, 62 percent to 35 percent.