|As reported by the AP|
BY: TONY ROMM
A slew of states have yet to close, but we can draw at least two basic conclusions from the preliminary exit poll data that have been released:
1. The economy is the biggest issue — which spells great news for Obama. According to CNN’s data, 62 percent of respondents* identified fiscal issues as their primary concerns, while only 10 percent of respondents held the War in Iraq in a similarly high regard. That is a key statistic tonight; according to Fox News (which has only announced their statistics on television), a significant percent of those voters who claimed foreign policy issues mattered most subsequently voted for McCain — answering, perhaps once and for all, whether Obama in any way dented the perception that he would make an inexperienced commander-in-chief.
2. The McCain=Bush argument may spell trouble for McCain. At least in early states, many of which are “battlegrounds,” most voters believe the Bush administration has failed at its job. According to The Fix, “27 percent [approve] of the job [Bush] is doing. Of the 71 percent who disapproved of the job he is doing, 52 percent disapprove strongly.”
Those numbers are significant: If voters did not buy McCain’s earlier declaration that he differs greatly from his predecessor, voters’ staunch disapproval for the Bush administration could translate into support for Obama.
3. McCain did well — but not well enough — to duplicate Bush’s success among Evangelical voters. According to CNN, 72 percent of these voters chose McCain, a 6 percent decrease from what Bush captured in 2004. That said, McCain has never polled as strongly as his predecessor in this demographic, so 72 percent support is still impressive.
*Note: Much of this data has not been presented in real numbers, only generalities (because of an exit poll data embargo imposed by the networks). The numbers, furthermore, only include those states that have already closed, not all the states for which there will (eventually) be election data. We’ll update our numbers as we receive them.