What exit polls say about the Virginia vote

Exit poll results show a big night all around for Barack Obama, and some disturbing news for John McCain.

Published February 13, 2008 1:23AM (EST)

We're still waiting on results from Maryland and Washington, D.C., but in the meantime exit polls in Virginia tell some interesting stories.

On the Democratic side, racial polarization in voting has been the hot-button issue, and Virginia was polarized too, though less so than in other states. Thirty percent of Democratic voters in the state were African-American, and Barack Obama won particularly big among that demographic, capturing almost 90 percent of the vote there. Whites made up 61 percent of the electorate, and Hillary Clinton won that group, but barely, with 50 percent to Obama's 49 percent. Interestingly, Obama also took a group that's been key for Clinton, Latinos. He won 55 percent of the Latino vote.

On the Republican side, tonight's exit polls can not be warming John McCain's heart. What they show is conservative Republicans still not ready to embrace him as their nominee. First, though a majority of Virginia Republicans believe McCain is the candidate most likely to prevail in November, not all of them care. Seventy-two percent of those responding to the exit poll said McCain was more electable, but 33 percent of them voted for Mike Huckabee. (By contrast, of the 19 percent who said Huckabee was more likely to beat the Democrat, 98 percent voted for him.) Similarly, some voters who believed McCain was the most qualified to be commander in chief and most qualified to handle the economy were willing to split away from him in ways those who said the same about Huckabee were not. And while McCain won handily among moderates, Huckabee won conservatives -- who made up the bulk of those voting -- easily. Moreover, though 74 percent said they'd be satisfied with McCain as the nominee, fully 25 percent said they would not. Finally, Huckabee won among those who listen to talk radio, perhaps a sign that the anti-McCain messages coming out of that medium are having some impact.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton John Mccain R-ariz. Mike Huckabee