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Early Exit Polls Reflect Negative Campaign

By Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen
Pennsylvania's Democratic primary voters said the economy was the top issue guiding their vote today, according to early network exit polls. And nearly nine in 10 said the nation is in a moderate or serious recession.

Change was again the top attribute among Democratic voters in the Keystone State, as it has been in each of the 31 states where voters have already weighed in as they exited polling places. About half said the ability to shake up Washington was the top quality they were looking for in a candidate. A quarter focused on a candidate's experience, about one in eight on empathy and one in 10 on electability.

There has been fierce competition for Pennsylvania voters, and about two-thirds said Hillary Clinton has unfairly attacked Barack Obama. Nearly half said Obama has gone after Clinton unfairly. That's the most to say the candidates are unjustly attacking one another since the Florida primary in late January.

In terms of the demographics of today's voters, Pennsylvania's electorate appears to be an amalgam of two of its neighboring states. From a socioeconomic perspective, the state closely resembles Ohio to the west, which Clinton won by 10 points. But when it comes to partisanship and ideological make-up, the state's Democratic voters are more in line with those in Maryland to the south, where Obama won by 23 points. Both Pennsylvania and Maryland limit primary elections to party members. About two in 10 voters in Pennsylvania are union members; about the same as in Ohio and Maryland.

The Keystone State's Democratic voters are slightly older than those in either of these neighboring states; in the preliminary exit poll data voters age 65 and over make up nearly three in 10 of all Pennsylvania voters. And about one in seven are African American. Both groups are worth watching as the night unfolds.

Overall, more than half called the nation's economy their top voting issue, about double the number focused on the war in Iraq.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 22, 2008; 6:46 PM ET
Categories:  Primaries  
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