The Pennsylvania Presidential Primary: Polls, Exit Polls, Live Blogging and What’s Next


Chart from Gallup.

It had been six weeks since the last Democratic primary between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. Pennsylvania has 158 pledged delegates to be awarded proportionally and while AP had called the race for Clinton shortly after 10 p.m. last night , th eexact split remains to be seen. In any case, the race will now continue.

Gallup Daily released four polls April 22:

According to Gallup,

Neither Democrat can claim stronger positioning against John McCain at this point. Among registered voters nationwide, McCain and Obama are even at 45%, while McCain outpolls Clinton by a single point, 46% to 45%.

Voting locales opened at 7 a.m. Eastern time in PA and closed at 8 p.m. At about 6:00 p.m., the Associated Press released its preliminary exit poll information.

[f]rom a partial sample of 1,421 Democratic primary voters conducted in 40 precincts across Pennsylvania by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for The Associated Press and television networks.

That’s the National Election Pool, folks, started in 2003, a consortium of ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News. AP actually

collects voter returns from all counties in the United States and from cities/towns in the New England states. They provide tabulations…

The first information was demographic in nature. Divulged votes in past races had led to criticism that the exit polls could affect the outcome if revealed while the voting was still going on. Since 2003

Edison/Mitofsky does not provide its information to the public. Each of the members has its own analysts who review the Exit Poll results and the tabulated data as it is collected. Each news organization makes its own decision about what to report to the public.

Projections of a winning candidate are based on models that use votes from…Exit Poll interviews with voters, vote returns as reported by election officials from the sample precincts, and tabulations of votes by county. …Projections of a winning candidate are only made after all the polls in a state are closed and when the best model estimates show a clear winner.

So here’s what AP told us at 6:00:

  • one in 10 changed their party registration since the start of 2008 in a race open only to registered Democrats. Those switching were split about evenly between registered Republicans and the unaffiliated. About 3 percent were voting for the first time in Pennsylvania.
  • voters were “overwhelmingly” white and there were more women than men. About 30% were age 65 or over. Almost 50% were from families that earned less than $50,000 last year, while about 25% had household income exceedomg $100,000. About 25% reported having a postgraduate degree. 30% were union members or had one in their household. About 40% reported having a gun owner in the household.
  • About 20% said the race of the candidates was among the top factors in their vote and about the same number named gender.
  • About 20% said they chose their candidate within the past week, about half of those today.
  • About 40% said the country is in a serious recession and an equal number called it a moderate recession. 10% said the economy is not in recession. At least 50% said the economy was the most important issue facing the country.
  • About 25% said Iraq was the top issue. Health care came next.

Brendan Loy posted yesterday morning on the predictive power of early election results–(hint: not much, unless Clinton pulled ahead from the start.) For the real political junkies among my readers, Mark Blumentahl live blogged the results over at Polster.com, as did the thread at Real Clear Politics.

With a close race, things had deteriorated in negative campaign ads, and a game of gotcha about Obama’s ties to Reverend Wright and his statement to supporters in San Francisco that blue collar voters are “bitter” and Hillary’s refuted tale of coming under fire in Bosnia. Both those speak to character, but in the policy arena Clinton was also saber rattling about Iran.

Yesterday, McCain senior adviser Mark McKinnon told USA Today reporter David Jackson,

We’re for anything that keeps it going.

Jackson added that Senior McCain adviser Mark Salter smiled while saying,

we don’t want to intrude on their process. We want them to carefully deliberate their choices.

The next stop will be North Carolina and Indiana on May 6. Montana and South Dakota hold the last Democratic primaries stateside June 3. Then there’s the Puerto Rican and a Guam caucus to be finished by June 7. To date, Clinton is still maintaining that Michigan and Florida, which she won, should count. She stayed on the ballot after the party leadership disqualified those states for jumping ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.

All this probably leaves the Republicans hopeful that either Democrat will emerge as damaged goods come the Convention. And, meanwhile, it also leaves many of us tired. But for those of you who still have the energy to study up for your dcivic engagement, you can find dossiers compiled by the bi-partisan Project Vote-Smart on Obama, Clinton and their Republican rival, Senator John McCain. All three have refused to fill out the group’s “political courage” survey, although McCain at one time sat on the Board. And don’t forget “OntheIsssues.org, although the material there is a bit dated.

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