Some Ohio counties still voting, but networks call the state for McCain

It's a tight race in one of the night's biggest prizes, but exit polls provide some interesting insights into voters' minds.


Alex Koppelman
March 5, 2008 6:05AM (UTC)

Well, we have a call in Ohio's Republican primary, which the networks have given to John McCain. No one's calling the Democratic primary, though, in part because Ohioans in at least one county are still voting. It looks like we'll be waiting a little while longer for official poll closings and results. At the request of the Ohio secretary of state, a judge agreed to hold polls open in Sandusky County until 9 p.m. EST because of morning ballot shortages. Barack Obama's campaign has requested that polls in two additional counties remain open, citing bad weather and ballot shortages.

We do have exit poll results in already, however, and some of them are really interesting. (Some of these may change as the night goes on and the numbers are adjusted to reflect actual results.) First, as usual, Hillary Clinton leads among women, while Obama leads among men. Fifty-nine percent of the Ohio electorate was female, according to the exit polls; Clinton won among women 54-45. Obama won among men by a slightly smaller margin, 52-47. A majority of Ohioans believe Obama is more likely to win in the general election; 53 percent of respondents answered Obama for that question, while only 44 percent answered Clinton.

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Though it was the Clinton campaign that pushed hardest for additional head-to-head debates between the Democratic candidates, it appears to have been Obama who benefited from them, at least in Ohio. Seventy-four percent of respondents said debates were important to their vote, and those people broke for Obama, 51-49. Clinton won among the 18 percent who said debates were not important, 54-43.

As everyone knows by now, this is a historic race in that it's all but ensured that the Democratic nominee will be a first, either a woman or an African-American. Ohio voters were asked whether the gender and race of the candidates were important. On the former question, 17 percent of respondents said gender was important; Clinton won that group, 57-43. 80 percent said gender was not important; Clinton won among them as well, 50-49. Twenty percent of respondents said race was important to their decision; Clinton won big among that group as well, 57-43 again. Seventy-nine percent said race was not important; they split between Clinton and Obama, 50-50.

Last, looking at party identification -- Ohio's primary is open, meaning you don't have to be registered as a Democrat to vote on the Democratic ticket -- 69 percent of respondents were Democrats. Clinton won that group, 53-46. By contrast, Obama won among Republicans and independents, who made up 9 and 22 percent of the respondents, respectively. Obama won Republicans 55-45 and won independents 54-46.

Update: According to Keith Olbermann on MSNBC just now, about a dozen precincts in Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state -- it includes Cleveland -- are being kept open.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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