Republican Ernie Fletcher (search) captured the statehouse in Kentucky by gathering support from across the board. According to a FOX News exit poll of Kentucky voters, Fletcher defeated his challenger, Democratic Attorney General Ben Chandler, by not only capturing strong support from Republicans (91 percent), but also a majority of independents (56 percent) and about a quarter (24 percent) of Democrats.

Men favored Fletcher 59 percent to 41 percent, and women split their votes 49 percent for Chandler to 51 percent for Fletcher. While blacks favored Chandler 80 percent to 19 percent, they made up a small percentage of the voters (about six percent). Union members also favored Chandler 63 percent to 37 percent.

When asked which issue mattered most in deciding how to vote for governor, health care/prescription drugs topped the list, as 27 percent of voters cited it as their top concern. These voters broke strongly for Fletcher (59 percent to 41 percent). The second most frequently cited issue was the economy/jobs (cited by 25 percent of the voters) and these voters favored Chandler, 62 percent to 38 percent.

The state budget deficit was selected by 13 percent as the main reason for their vote. These voters also favored Fletcher, 63 percent to 37 percent for Chandler. Education was cited by 12 percent and these voters split 51 percent for Chandler to 48 percent for Fletcher.

Although the current governor’s administration was plagued by scandals that some thought would ruin the Democrats' chances to hold the seat, most voters (77 percent) said Gov. Paul Patton was not a factor in their vote decision.

The State of Kentucky

Most Kentucky voters rated their state's economy negatively: 19 percent said it is in “poor” shape, and 53 percent said “not so good.” Just 25 percent rated the Kentucky economy as “good,” while only one percent called it “excellent.”

Despite this, almost a third (31 percent) of the voters said their family's financial situation is better today than it was two years ago, 45 percent said their finances are about the same, and 24 percent said they are financially worse off today than two years ago.

A majority of voters in Kentucky (69 percent) said jobs are difficult to find compared to 28 percent who thought, “there are plenty of jobs available.” Those who thought work is hard to find were slightly more likely to support Chandler than were those who thought jobs are plentiful (52 percent to 48 percent).

The National Scene

Many Kentucky voters rated the national economy negatively, although more positively than they rated their state economy. Sixteen percent said the national economy is in poor shape, and another 41 percent rated the economy not so good. Almost four in 10 (38 percent) said the country's economy is in good shape, and three percent rated the national economy as excellent.

Overall, Kentucky voters approve of the way President Bush is doing his job, as 58 percent of the voters said they approve and 38 percent disapprove.

Looking ahead to the 2004 presidential election, President Bush still has some work to do in Kentucky: 44 percent of voters said they would definitely vote for Bush, while 20 percent said they might support Bush but might support someone else, and over a third (35 percent) said they would definitely vote for someone other than Bush.

Methodology

Edison/Mitofsky conducted the exit poll for FOX News and the National Election Pool. At 35 voting locations, 1861 voters were interviewed as they exited the polling places where they had just voted.

A typical error due to sampling for a 95 percent confidence interval is +/- 3%. Characteristics that are more concentrated in a few polling places, such as race, have larger sampling errors. Other non-sampling factors may increase the total error.

How to Read these "Horizontal" Tables

The percentages in the first column, labeled "Total," show the proportion of the electorate that is in each subgroup -- these columns are read down vertically.

The percentages in all remaining columns are read across horizontally (those to the right of the "Total" column).  These percentages show how the particular subgroup of voters divided their vote among the candidates or vote question.

Please note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access these final exit poll numbers. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here to download.

• PDF: Kentucky Governor Exit Poll

• PDF: Kentucky Governor Exit Poll Questionnaire