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Ethnicity, Income, and Age. In contrast to gender, a large ethnic gap, as well as modest income and age gaps, are evident in the 2008 exit polls. Arkansas’s relatively small black population (16 percent) again lent overwhelming support to the Democratic nominee, casting 95 percent of its ballots for Obama. The state’s white voters, however, more than made up the difference by giving 68 percent of their substantial weight to McCain and only 30 percent to Obama. In terms of relative wealth, voters in the lowest and highest income categories strongly preferred Obama and McCain, respectively. With respect to age, we see that the GOP won by substantial margins across every category except for voters eighteen to twenty-nine years old. Among these voters, the division was evenly split, with 49 percent voting for Obama and 49 percent voting for McCain; only the very youngest Arkansans, those just eighteen to twenty-four years old (8 percent of the electorate), favored the Democratic candidate, and they did so just barely: 50 to 48 percent. Other Social/Demographic Factors. Although the results are not shown here in the interest of space, there was little change between 2004 and 2008 in the role of education, religion, and marital status on the presidential preference of Arkansas voters. As with income, higher levels of educational attainment correlated both years with stronger GOP support . Identification with Christian evangelism and being married likewise increased the odds of casting a vote for the Republican ticket. Political Factors Issues. Perhaps strangely in light of their stark departure from the nation’s vote choice, Arkansans ran nearly even with other Americans in identifying the most important problem. Fifty-four percent chose the economy while 12 percent saw Iraq as the most pressing concern. Still, among both groups of voters, a clear majority supported McCain. In fact, across nearly every issue included in the survey (for example, the economy, Iraq, terrorism, and energy policy) McCain received greater percentages of support . The only issue where Obama cleaved out a slight lead was among voters who chose health care as the most important problem. Among these voters, Obama received 51 percent while 48 percent voted for McCain. Partisanship and Ideology. It was Arkansas’s unaffiliated voters, long comparable to Democratic identifiers in size, who once again played a decisive role in the state’s election outcome. In the 2004 election, Democrats and liberals, not surprisingly, gave their support to the Democratic nominee (82 and 79 percent, respectively). In the 2008 election, this sup132 ★ Jay Barth, Janine A. Parry, and Todd G. Shields port dropped—if only slightly. Conversely, Democratic support for the GOP candidate increased from 18 percent in the 2004 election to 21 percent in 2008. And although Republican support for that party’s nominee fell from 97 percent in 2004 to 93 percent in 2008, the seven-point increase among independents more than compensated for that gap. Overall, then, despite the small drop in Republican Party loyalty, Arkansas Republicans cast their ballots in greater percentages for their party’s nominee than did Democrats by an even wider margin than in 2004. This effect was boosted by McCain’s advantage with independents. Further, although Obama won among ideologically liberal voters, his lead among moderates was only 6 percentage points. This was a substantial loss for Obama compared to Kerry’s showing in 2004, when the Democrats picked up 58 percent of moderate voters (compared to 40 percent for Bush). The Clinton Factor. Not only did the wounds of the failed Clinton candidacy demobilize Arkansas’s Democratic Party activists, but evidence also suggests that the Clinton factor rippled into the Arkansas mass public . According to the October Arkansas Poll, for example, 54 percent of the electorate would have voted for the former First Lady had she been a nominee. Just 57 percent of these would-have-been Democrats in 2008 were prepared to cast ballots for Obama, compared with 26 percent for McCain. Exit poll findings on a similar question were nearly identical. Indeed, while we cannot know how a Clinton-McCain matchup actually would have been received in Arkansas or nationwide, Table 8.5 shows Clinton outperforming Obama—often by large margins—in every category , including in particular the white independents who often determine Arkansas elections. Turnout. Despite the usual media hullabaloo about projected turnout in the days before November 4, Arkansas voters participated in 2008 at virtually the same rate as in 2004 (see Table 8.6). The absence...


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MARC Record
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