On the Exit Polls in Indiana

7 05 2008

Senator Barack Obama’s lost in a squeaker in Indiana should provide some encouragement to the campaign. Here are a few stats I found fairly interesting in the exit polls.

Obama lost to Hillary on registered Republicans and Democrats, 52 to 46 and 53 to 47, yet won independents and others, 49 to 51. This worries me a bit because while its encouraging to see that Obama can still bring new people into the process, I wonder if it means some people are still too resistant to the change he wittingly or unwittingly represents to some people or if its just that still has trouble solidifying the Democratic base around him due to other issues.

Of course, it would be useful to know how many of the folks who voted for Hillary last night will vote for Obama in November versus John McCain. But that’s a related yet separate issue for another post.

I also found it odd that voters who had some college or an associates degree voted decisively for Clinton, 58 to 41, yet Obama won those who actually had a college degree 53 to 46. This statistic alone makes me want to send every child to college. Its also strikes me as highly peculiar that such as deviation should exist among people around the same education level.

As expected Clinton destroyed Obama among the 65 and older crowd, 71 to 29, but he did beat her among those aged between 40 and 49 by a comfortable margin, 48 to 52. This is a good sign that Obama can close the age gap against Hillary even in an overwhelming white state after the Rev. Wright controversy.

A little bit of the familiar and the surprising came through on the key issues too. For those who ranked the war in Iraq as their top issue, Obama beat Hillary 54 to 46. That’s to be expected though I think he should have beat her by a wider margin on that score. Perhaps, it reflects the fact that Obama during the last few weeks has not had a chance to underscore Hillary’s vote for war, and her meager concession of regret for doing so only under fierce criticism by the liberal left and once it became clear that it was a clear impediment to her success.

For those who said the economy was the biggest issue Clinton beat Obama 54 to 45. This is surprising to me, especially given her obvious knee jerk pandering by teasing voters with her gas tax holiday proposal, an idea she appropriated from McCain. Perhaps, Obama should have emphasized how Clinton’s position on this issue spoke to policy and character differences a little more. It was a dumb idea that no economist supported and it definitely speaks to the whole she will do anything to win meme.

More importantly, in the minds of many people the economy and the war are inextricably linked. If Obama could remind people of the opportunity costs lost due to spending money on the failed war in Iraq, means less funding for SCHIP or less than robust tax breaks for middle class folk or less funds for federal student loans, then he could at least narrowed that gap a bit. The war in Iraq needs to be recasted as an economic issue, because if it works against the Clinton campaign it will certainly work against McCain in the fall.

Interestingly enough, Obama and Clinton basically split those who said health care was their top issue, 51 to 49. This is an indication that Obama is starting to make head way with many of his smaller town hall style policy discussions with ordinary folk who want to hear him make his pitch on the specifics, particularly folk with real needs. It also means that people are beginning to associate Obama with one of the staple issues of the Democratic party. If this holds up in the remaining contests, health care, along with his opposition to the war in Iraq, could be his ticket to solidifying the Democratic base in November.

As far as the racial and gender breakdown goes. Some of it just does not seem right to me. I don’t know how it all breaks down within the Democratic electorate in Indiana, but the state’s overall population is more than 88 percent white and nearly nine percent black. By contrast, white and black folk are about 66 percent and 12 percent of the national population, respectively. So, that means we have an overrepresented white population and an underrepresented black population in the Hoosier state.

Yet Clinton creamed Obama among whites 61 to 39 while he won the overwhelming majority of the black vote at 92 to eight. But even if we concede that black folk will be overrepresented in the Democratic electorate is it possible that he managed to create a photo finish ending in Indiana with those kind of numbers? I am by no means a statistician, but this makes me wonder how reliable some of the exit polling data is making conclusive judgments on racial polarized voting patterns.

Or maybe I am just missing something.

If I have time during the next two days or so, I will take a look at the North Carolina exit polls.

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2 responses

7 05 2008
gasdocpol

There is a difference between those who had “some college” and those who finished a bachelor’s degree.

Some people voted according to race and/or gender. Maybe some of them will evolve by November.

McCain is more like GW Bush than many realize.

The Clintons will screw up their legacy royally if they don’t back Obama vigorously and they are not stupid or perverse.

7 05 2008
KUT

Granted. But that’s quite a gap among those with fairly similar education levels. Or maybe a college degree includes those with a B.A. or better while those with some college or an associates degree mean exactly that.

That is to say, maybe if we isolate and compare the numbers of those who had some college or an associates and those with ONLY a B.A. we might see a narrower gap.

Interestingly enough, Obama beat Clinton 55 to 45 percent among those with postgraduate degrees.

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