Some highlights from the (sketchy, unreliable, not-to-be-trusted) exit polls:
How’d Wright play? Thirty percent of voters said the Rev. Wright’s comments were “very important” to their vote. Of them, 69 percent voted for Clinton. Fox News concludes from this that it’s “clear” Wright has hurt Obama. But beware of false causation. Someone already planning to vote for Clinton is more likely to be “very” affected by Wright, just as an Obama supporter in Pennsylvania was more likely to be affected by Clinton’s sniper story. It’s a stretch to conclude that Wright caused all these people to vote against Obama.
It’s the economy. Two-thirds of Indiana voters and almost as many in North Carolina identified the economy as the most important issue. You’d think this bodes well for Clinton, given her recent populist stances. And indeed, Clinton performed better among these voters in Indiana. But Obama wins this group in North Carolina. And in Indiana, both candidates are about even on the question of who is most likely to improve the economy.
Limbaugh effect. With anecdotal evidence circulating that some Republicans are voting for Clinton—it’s an open primary, so indies and GOPers can vote—exit polls in Indiana show the GOP vote going to Clinton, 53-45. Apparently, Limbaugh is already taking credit .
Race/gender. Demographics break down pretty much as you’d expect: In Indiana, Obama won 92 percent of blacks, and Clinton won about 60 percent of whites. The numbers are roughly the same in North Carolina. On the gender front, both candidates win men and women by about the same numbers, with a slight advantage to Obama for men and to Clinton for women.
Attack of the attacks. More Indiana voters answered “yes” when asked whether Clinton attacked unfairly (64 percent) than did those asked whether Obama did (44 percent). But when asked which candidate attacked unfairly, a plurality of voters answered “both.” So although more voters may see Clinton as an unfair attacker, both candidates are held responsible.
Gas-tax referendum? Did the gas debate influence the vote much? Unlikely. About three-quarters of Indiana voters said they made up their minds before last week, when the gas-tax controversy was just brewing. Late deciders were even more rare in North Carolina, with about 80 percent of voters saying they decided before last week.