Judging by exit polls, two groups made the difference for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Tuesday night. A strong showing from African-American voters and gains elsewhere helped Obama to a big win in North Carolina. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, could thank older voters for what turned out to be a nail-biter of a victory in Indiana.
It’s not a surprise that Obama won North Carolina, but it is a great relief to his campaign. The Illinois senator had been dropping precipitously in the polls, and what was once an Obama stronghold became a game-changing opportunity for Hillary Clinton.
Clinton won the state of Indiana by an unexpectedly narrow margin—just thousands of votes. Many of those came from older voters, who turned out for the New York senator en masse.
According to CNN’s exit poll data, working class voters were a non-factor. Obama and Clinton divided voters who make less than $50,000 annually evenly, though Clinton did much better among white voters.
Speaking of exit data, it’s possible that Rush Limbaugh’s plan to get Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton might be having some effect. Thirty-three percent of voters said they would not be satisfied if Hillary Clinton won the nomination. Of those, ten percent voted for her. Thirty-seven percent of voters said Clinton did not share their values. Of those, 18 percent voted for her. Of voters who said neither candidate shared their values, 76 percent voted for Clinton. Who, you might ask, could possibly not share values with either Democrat? Apparently 8 percent of Democratic primary voters in Indiana.
There’s no question that Tuesday was ultimately a victory for Barack Obama. He won North Carolina by a bigger margin than was expected and he lost Indiana by a narrower margin than expected. Both are signs that he has arrested the freefall of his campaign and seized some momentum.
But that’s no reason for Hillary fans to be despondent. Next week the candidates face off in West Virginia, where she is expected to win by a wide margin. Then it’s off to Kentucky, another state Clinton should do well in.
Unless there’s a superdelegate avalanche, this campaign looks like it will last until June, and maybe beyond.
As polls closed in Indiana, Clinton had a double-digit lead over Obama, but by the end of the evening, Clinton’s lead had shrunk, forcing the race to be dragged out until early Wednesday.
[...] There were 115 delegates at stake in North Carolina and 72 in Indiana.
Because Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally, Obama added four delegates to his lead, according to CNN estimates.
Obama earlier claimed a decisive victory in North Carolina.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Obama held a 14-point lead over Clinton.
AP photo / Elise Amendola
Ready to party: Clinton’s camp prepares to celebrate a win in Indianapolis, Ind., Tuesday night.