Early exit poll: Richer, more educated Ohio voters

at 06:20 PM ET, 03/06/2012

The Ohio presidential primary electorate is more educated and higher income than during the state’s 2008 GOP vote and prize business experience over government experience, according to early exit polling in the Buckeye State.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and his wife Ann, talk to reporters on his campaign plane before taking off for Boston, in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Nearly half of all Ohio primary voters have a college degree and three in ten have a household income of $100,000 or more. Two-thirds say they would prefer a candidate with business experience while just one in four would rather a candidate with experience in government.

Those numbers — while preliminary — bode well for the chances of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney who has done well among high education, high income voters in the previous 12 states that have cast ballots in the presidential process to date.

Of course, the Ohio electorate also appears to be significantly more Catholic than it was four years ago, a development that could benefit former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum who talks openly about his Catholic faith on the campaign trail.

Romney has been trending up in Ohio polling over the last week or so, pulling into a tie with Santorum in recent surveys.

A come-from-behind win in Ohio — coupled with expected victories in Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia — would give Romney a substantial lead in the delegate chase and could well hamstring Santorum’s attempts to paint himself as a viable national alternative to the former Massachusetts governor.

Polls in Ohio close at 7:30 p.m. eastern time.

Read what others are saying