NC for Obama, Indiana Undeclared; Let's Look at the Exits

| Tue May 6, 2008 8:12 PM EDT

If you're following the primary tonight, you've probably seen the news on TV: Obama has won North Carolina, in what appears to be a decisive victory, and Indiana is too close to call.

Here's what the exits are saying. In North Carolina, Clinton won white women 64-32 and white men 54-40. In Indiana, she won white women 61-39 and white men 58-41. Those numbers are roughly equivalent, and would suggest that the results from both states ought to be the same. The reason they likely will not be? The size of the black population. In North Carolina, blacks are 33 percent of the vote. In Indiana, they're just 15. In both states, they went for Obama by over 90 percent. The takeaway: racial voting blocks acted in consistent fashion across states today; it was their size that made the difference.

Comparing today's numbers to Ohio's should give us a fair sense of how the race has changed since March 4. In the Buckeye State, Clinton won white women 67-31 and white men 58-39. That means that Obama is doing slightly better nowadays with white women and roughly the same with white men. It's hard to read too much into these numbers, because the differences in question are probably just barely outside the margin of error, if they are at all. That said, the fact that Obama is doing as well with white voters as he did before the Reverend Wright situation really took off (he may even be doing slightly better!) is a sign of good things for Obama.

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In both NC and IN, Obama won voters under 45 and Clinton won voters over 60. The middle-aged folks, though, were more volatile. In NC, the 45-60 age group went for Obama. In IN, it went for Clinton.

Income was not a useful metric today. In NC, Obama won voters who make less than $50,000 a year, as well as those who make more than that. In IN, Clinton won both groups.

Obama was also aided by college graduates today. In NC, a college education didn't matter much: Obama won those with college degrees 56-42 and won those without 55-40. But IN, it did matter: Obama won those with college degrees 56-44 and lost those without 44-56.

Obama is now speaking in North Carolina, by the way. He just said, "Tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the democratic nomination." Interestingly, he congratulated Clinton on her victory in Indiana, even though none of the networks have called it for her yet. He's also emphasizing that even though there are some "hurt feelings" on both sides of the Democratic race, the party will come together behind its principles and convictions in the fall. "This fall we intend to march forward as a unified Democratic Party." Is someone trying to play the role of the nominee?

By the way, need any more proof that this is a "change" election? When asked which "candidate qualities mattered most" when selecting who to vote for, 50 percent of respondents in both states said "can bring about needed change." By contrast, "cares about people like me" was most important to 15 percent of respondents; "has the right experience" was most important to 21-23 percent; and "has the best chance to win in November" was most important to just 9-10 percent.

And as Obama finishes up, he throws in one more dig at John McCain: "His plans for the future... are nothing more than the failed policies of the past." And he doesn't let Clinton off the hook, either. He says that Democrats know that Republicans will use attacks and smears in their campaign against either Hillary Clinton or himself. The only open question is what kind of campaign the Democrats will run against the Republicans. Will they "duplicate the same tactics and strategies of the other side" or will they choose instead to "tell the truth?"

On CNN, they're calling it the "first speech of the general election" and an "acceptance speech." Hard to disagree. The only problem is that Hillary Clinton isn't likely to go away after today; in fact, the Clintons get better when their backs get up against the wall.