The nation’s electorate was focused on the economy and change – two of Democrat Barack Obama’s biggest strengths – and that was more than enough to bring him victory over Republican John McCain.
Few items could illustrate more about this election than this: 75 percent of voters said the country is headed in the wrong direction, up from 46 percent in 2004 and 31 percent in 2000. And these voters went solidly for Obama — 62 percent to 36 percent for McCain.
Those voters saying the country is “on the right track” – 21 percent of voters – broke for McCain 71 percent to 28 percent. As expected, the economy overwhelmed all other issues, as 63 percent of voters said it was the most important issue facing the country. In addition, 50 percent said they are “very” worried about the economy’s direction and 48 percent are “very” worried the economic crisis will harm their family’s finances in the next year.
How voters felt about the economy mattered tremendously to their vote. Economy voters – those who said it is the top issue – backed Obama 53-44 percent. In addition, Obama won those very worried about the economy’s direction by 60-38 percent. Those who are not worried went for McCain 65-33 percent.
More voters said they are looking for a candidate who can bring about change (34 percent) than any other quality and those voters overwhelmingly went for Obama 89-9 percent.
Nearly as many voters were looking for someone who shares their values (30 percent). These values voters broke for McCain 66 percent to 31 percent for Obama. McCain wins big among the one in five voters (20 percent) who said having the right experience was most important — 93-7.
A 57 percent majority said Obama is in touch with people like them – that’s nearly 20 points higher than the 39 percent who said McCain is.
So much attention has been paid to young voters during this election and they were a big part of Obama’s campaign – did they make up more of the electorate today than in the past? Not really – people under age 30 were 18 percent of all voters, up from 17 percent in the past three presidential elections and down from 21 percent in 1992. These young voters went heavily for Obama 66-32 percent.
By 68 percent to 31 percent Obama also won among the 11 percent of “new” voters who are participating in a presidential election for the first time this year. First-time voters made up 11 percent of voters in 2004 and went for John Kerry (53 percent) over George W. Bush (46 percent).
Additional Demographic Groups
Seniors went for McCain by 53-45 percent, which is about the same margin Bush won them by in 2004 (52-47 percent).
The number of Democrats outnumbered Republicans, and the number of Democrats increased slightly – 39 percent today up from 37 percent in 2004. While fewer Republicans represented – 32 percent, down from 37 percent last time.
Party loyalty was strong on both sides, as Obama was able to capture 89 percent of Democrats and McCain took 89 percent of Republicans.
Independents – 29 percent of the electorate – backed Obama 52 percent to 44 percent.
Even though most of those who backed Bush in 2004 supported McCain today (82 percent), some 18 percent defected from the Republican Party and voted for Obama this time.
Obama won women by 13 percentage points — 56-43. Gore won women by 11 points and Kerry won them by 3 points. White women broke for McCain 53-46 percent. In 2000, white women backed Bush by a razor-thin 1 point margin and by 11-points in 2004.
Men supported Obama by 49-48 percent. Bush won men by 11 points in both 2000 and 2004. And while McCain was favored among white men by 16 points, that is a narrower margin than Bush’s 25-point win among this group in 2004.
White Catholics went for McCain 52-47 percent, marking the first time this swing voting bloc has failed to back the winner in at least four elections.
In this historic election of the nation’s first African American president, black voters made up 13 percent of the electorate – up from 11 percent in 2004 and 10 percent in 2000. Fully 95 percent of blacks voted for Obama. In 2004, Kerry won 88 percent of the black vote and Gore won 90 percent in 2000.
Overall, white voters supported McCain by a 12 point margin — 55 percent to Obama’s 43 percent. In 2004, Bush won whites by 17 points. Hispanics favored Obama by 66-31 percent.
Vice Presidential Candidates
Two-thirds of voters (66 percent) said Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden is qualified to step in as president if it were to become necessary – nearly 30 points higher than the number who say the same of Republican Sarah Palin.
Below is a summary of several key battleground states.
Colorado, with its 9 electoral votes, went for the Democratic presidential candidate tonight. Part of the reason for the change from red to blue was the impressive get out the vote efforts by the Obama campaign. In Colorado, 48 percent of Obama voters said they were reached by the Obama campaign, while 35 percent of McCain voters were reached by McCain campaign.
Obama also won among Hispanics voters, a growing proportion of the electorate. In 2004, Hispanics were 8 percent of the voters, and went 68 percent for Kerry, 30 percent for Bush. Today, Hispanics were 17 percent of the voters, and 734 percent went for Obama, 27 percent for McCain.
McCain also lost the support of Colorado’s rural voters. They were 12 percent of today’s electorate, and went 45 percent for Obama to 54 percent for McCain. In 2004, the Republican candidate won 59 percent of Colorado’s rural voters.
McCain continued to receive support among Colorado’s more conservative voters. Colorado is home to the Moral Majority and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. White Evangelicals Christians, 24 percent of the voters in Colorado today, went 75 percent for McCain. In 2004, White Evangelicals were 26 percent electorate, and 86 percent for went for Bush.
In Florida, Obama won the support of Hispanic voters, which make up 14 percent of the electorate in that state. Hispanics went for Obama, 57 percent to 42 percent for McCain. In 2004, Bush also won Florida with the support of Hispanic voters, with 56 percent – 44% Kerry).
Obama also won Florida’s independents, 52 percent to McCain’s 45. Obama’s support with young voters was substantial: He won that group 61 percent to McCain’s 37 percent, and young voters were 15 percent of Florida’s electorate.
McCain was able to attract the support of Florida’s seniors and won that group by 53 percent to Obama’s 45 percent. He also won white working class voters: 41 percent of white working class voters went for Obama and 58 percent McCain.
Iowa is a swing state that went for Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004. Now, in 2008 it is officially in the blue column backing Obama over McCain.
This year more voters identified themselves as Democrats and independents and fewer identified themselves as Republicans, compared to 2004.
Today, Democrats made up 34 percent of voters, independents 33 percent and Republicans 33 percent of voters. In 2004, Democrats made up 34 percent of voters, independents 30 percent, and Republicans 36 percent.
Independents voted for Obama 56 percent to 41 percent for McCain. In 2004, independents went 53 percent for Kerry and 45 percent for Bush.
A full 70 percent of Iowans voting disapproved of the job Bush has done as president. Of those voters who disapproved of Bush, 71 percent voted for Obama and 27 percent for McCain.
In 2004, 46 percent disapproved of the Bush’s job performance.
Obama’s upset of Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Democratic primary launched his presidential campaign, and the campaign maintained a presence in the state.
41 percent of voters today said they had been contacted by the Obama campaign. 30 percent said they had been contacted by the McCain campaign.
Some 67 percent of Iowans voting support federal government subsidies for ethanol production. Of those voters, they went 56 percent for Obama and 42 percent for McCain.
Nevada with its 5 electoral votes and history as a red state went for Barack Obama with the support of Hispanic voters. Hispanics, 16 percent of the electorate, voted 78 percent for Obama and 20 percent for McCain. In 2004, Bush received 39 percent of the Hispanic vote.
In 2004, Independents were 27 percent of the electorate, and Bush received 45 percent of that vote. Today, 32 percent of the voters identified themselves as independents, and 56 percent went for Obama, 40 percent for McCain.
With the highest foreclosure rate in the nation and one of the top ten highest job loss states, the economy was understandably the top issue in Nevada, with 63percent identifying it as the most important issue facing the country. Some 61percent of these economy voters went for Obama and 37 percent for McCain.
Finally, women made up 52 percent of the voters in Nevada, and 61 percent went for Obama, 37 percent for McCain. In 2004, Bush received support of 47 percent of women voters in Nevada.
While New Mexico went narrowly for Bush in 2004 and for Gore in 2000, today the Land of Enchantment went for Obama over McCain.
Hispanics, who made up 41 percent of voters today, went 69 percent for Obama and 30 percent for McCain. The popular New Mexico governor and former Democratic presidential candidate had endorsed Obama.
In 2004, Hispanics made up 32 percent of voters; they voted 56 percent for Kerry and 44 percent for Bush.
Forty-four percent of voters in New Mexico have a family income under $50,000; they voted 65 percent for Obama and 33 percent for McCain. More families in New Mexico live below the poverty line (14 percent) than the national average (9 percent).
Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton in the New Mexico Democratic primary voted 88 percent for Obama and 11 percent for McCain. These Democratic Clinton supporters made up 13 percent of voters.
Both campaigns ran attack ads in the state critical of each others immigration policies. Obama’s Spanish language ads claimed McCain and the Republican Party had, “two faces” when it came to immigration reform.
The McCain campaign ran advertisements blaming Obama and his Democratic colleagues for the failure of comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.
The voters of New Mexico came away believing that both candidates made unfair attacks, though many more attributed it to McCain. Nearly half (49 percent) said Obama made unfair attacks, 71 percent said McCain did.
Seventy percent of voters in this border state believe illegal immigrants should be given a chance to apply for legal status, 23 percent of voters said illegal immigrants should be deported.
Of those voters would believe in offering legal status, they voted 63 percent for Obama and 36 percent for McCain.
Democrats kept this state that they took from the Republicans in 2004.
Obama had strong support from women, who voted 61 percent for Obama to 38 percent for McCain. Women made up 52 percent of New Hampshire voters.
Young voters also were solidly behind the Democrat – 62 percent to McCain’s 37 percent.
Obama won seniors here also. Senior voters age 65 and over voted 56 percent for Obama to 43 percent for McCain.
A 59 percent majority of independents voted for Obama, while 39 percent went for McCain.
In 2004, independents made up 44 percent of voters. They had voted 56 percent for Kerry and 42 percent for Bush.
Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in January and Democrats who wanted her to win the nomination came out tonight for Obama. Those voters went 84 percent for Obama and 15 percent jumped ship and went for McCain.
These former Clinton voters made up 11 percent of New Hampshire voters.
Women broke heavily for Obama. They made up 52 percent of voters; they voted 60 percent for Obama and 37 for McCain.
In 2004, women voted 54 percent for Kerry and 45 percent for McCain.
McCain was hurt by President Bush whose job approval in the state is just 21 percent; 78 percent disapproved. Of those voters who disapprove of Bush, 68 percent voted for Obama and 31 percent for McCain. In 2004, 49 percent of voters said they disapproved of Bush’s job as president.
In the Senate race, former Governor Jeanne Shaheen (D) beat incumbent Republican Senator John Sununu (R).
A key group to this victory was independents who were 44 percent of all voters. They broke 55 percent for Shaheen to 41 percent for Sununu.
It was not a pleasant campaign. Fully 65 percent of voters said Shaheen attacked Sununu unfairly. The same number thought Sununu made unfair attacks on Shaheen.
The Democrats kept Pennsylvania in their column thanks in large part to union voters who made up slightly more than one-quarter of the voters broke strongly for Obama, 62 percent to 37 percent for McCain.
Obama was able to keep a large majority of Democrats who wanted Hillary Clinton to get the nomination (she won the primary here). Those Clinton supporters stayed true to the party and gave Obama 79 percent of their votes; just 20 percent of people who wanted Clinton to win the nomination ended up voting for McCain.
Independents gave Obama a 21 percentage point lead – 58 percent to 39 percent.
An important pickup state for the Democrats. Young voters played a large role here. Voters under 30 years of age were 17 percent of the electorate and they gave Obama 63 percent of their votes to 34 percent for McCain. In 2004, young voters also favored the Democrat, but by a 14 point margin.
Independents split 52 percent for Obama, 44 percent for McCain.
Three-in-ten voters live in a union household. They gave Obama 57 percent to McCain’s 42 percent.
Voters without a college degree made up 61 percent of the electorate. They broke for Obama, giving him 53 percent of their votes to 45 percent for McCain.
Both campaigns made a tremendous effort in Ohio but more voters said they were contacted by the Obama campaign than the McCain. Forty-three percent said they were personally contacted by the Obama campaign, 36 percent by the McCain campaign.
Tonight in Virginia, Obama led the Democratic Party to its first victory in the presidential race since 1964 with the election of Lyndon Johnson. Many groups helped push Obama to victory. New Voters made up 13 percent of the Obama’s winning coalition, and new voters went for Obama 63 percent to just 35 percent for McCain.
The Obama campaign targeted Virginia hard with its voter registration efforts and young voters were a significant part of that targeting. Young Voters, 21 percent of the electorate today, went for Obama 60 percent for Obama, and 39 percent for McCain. McCain lost significant Republican support in that state. In 2004, 54 percent of new voters voted for Kerry, 46 percent went for Bush and were only 17% of the electorate.
Obama also made significant in-roads into Virginia’s rural communities. He lost rural voters, but was able to cut into the Republican margin of 62 percent in 2004, by 11 points. Rural voters went 49 percent for Obama and 51 percent for McCain.
Obama did, however, cut into Republican support in the suburbs and win those Virginia voters. Suburban voters went 51 percent to 48 percent in Virginia. In 2004, Bush carried suburban Virginia voters by 53 percent.
McCain carried Virginia’s white voters. They went 39 percent for Obama, 60 percent for McCain. In 2004, whites in Virginia broke 32 percent for the Democrat and 68 percent for the Republican.
Edison/Mitofsky conducted these exit polls for FOX News and interviewed 12,000 voters nationwide as they left randomly selected polling places around the country.
In states where there is significant absentee and early voting, data from telephone polling is combined with the exit poll results. There is a national phone survey of absentee and early voters which is combined with the national exit poll results.
There are 15 states where absentee/early voters will be interviewed and those results are combined with the state exit polls – those states are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. In three states – Colorado, Oregon and Washington State – voters were only interviewed by telephone because of the small percentage of Election Day voters in those states.
Absentee and early voters made up an estimated 22 percent of the total national vote in the 2004 presidential election, and absentee and early voters are anticipated to make up approximately 30 percent of the total national vote in the 2008 presidential election.