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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 05:08 PM ET, 05/08/2008

Clinton's Broader Base?

UPDATE: This post has been updated to correct Bush's margin among white voters in 2000.

Hillary Clinton's comments to USA Today arguing that her support among white voters in the primaries provides her with a broader base of support have set the blogosphere abuzz.

In the interview, Clinton referred to polling data "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

The comments have ignited a furor similar to that which erupted after Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, compared Obama's success in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential run. Then, as now, the data show something different.

The network exit polls show Clinton winning whites without college degrees in both Indiana and North Carolina by wide margins, but without evident slippage for Obama. And Clinton's margin among this group in Indiana (where they made up more than half of all voters) was 10 points smaller than it was in Pennsylvania.

Among whites overall, there is also little evidence of weakening support for Obama: His share of the vote in Indiana and North Carolina was about the same as in Pennsylvania. And regardless of the divide in the primaries, white voters are a challenge for Democrats in general elections. In 2004, Bush defeated Kerry among whites by 17 points, and in 2000, he beat Gore by 12 points among whites.

This year's full National Election Pool Democratic exit poll trend among white voters is in the table below (table only includes those states where exit polling was conducted, leaving out several with largely white populations that Obama won, including Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska).

        % Total   Clinton   Obama   Clin - Ob
Iowa       93        27       33        -6
N.H.       95        39       36        +3
Michigan   72        63       N/A      N/A 	
Nevada     65        52       34       +18
S.C.       43        36       24       +12
Florida    66        53       23       +30
Alabama    44        72       25       +47
Arkansas   80        79       16       +63
Arizona    68        53       38       +15
Calif.     52        46       45        +1
Conn.      82        49       48        +1
Delaware   64        56       40       +16
Georgia    43        53       43       +10
Illinois   57        41       57       -16
Mass.      85        58       40       +18
Missouri   76        57       39       +18
N.J.       59        66       31       +35
N.M.       57        43       55       -12
New York   70        59       37       +22
Oklahoma   82        56       29       +27
Tennessee  67        67       26       +41
Utah       89        40       55       -15
Louisiana  47        58       30       +28
Maryland   53        52       42       +10
Virginia   61        47       52        -5
Wisconsin  87        45       54        -9
Ohio       76        64       34       +30
Texas      46        55       44       +11
R.I        85        63       37       +26
Vermont    94        38       60       -22
Miss.      49        73       26       +47
Penn.      80        63       37       +26
Indiana    78        60       40       +20
N.C.       62        61       37       +24

SOURCE: National Election Pool exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  05:08 PM ET, 05/08/2008

Categories:  Exit polls

 
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