Key findings from a poll of voters in the Texas general
McCAIN'S STRENGTHS: Whites, Republicans, seniors, evangelical
Christians and the affluent flocked to the Republican presidential
nominee, and Sen. John McCain also appeared to carry the
independent vote. McCain won about two-thirds of the white vote,
and nearly three-fifths of those whose families earn more than
$50,000 a year. More than one-third of Texans polled approved of
President Bush's performance - higher than the national average -
and they overwhelmingly backed McCain.
McCAIN'S WEAKNESSES: McCain lagged Bush's performance in 2004 on several fronts - even when he won groups of voters, he often did so by smaller margins. McCain was unable to duplicate Bush's support
among Hispanics and young voters. Among those who disapproved of
Bush's performance as president, three-fourths voted against McCain.
OBAMA'S STRENGTHS: Black voters were stunningly united in their support for Sen. Barack Obama, bidding to become the nation's first black president. Hispanics, who constituted a bigger bloc of the Texas electorate, favored Obama more than 2-to-1 - in the 2004 presidential election, they split nearly down the middle. Three-fifths of voters under 30 liked Obama. Liberals, moderates, Democrats and voters from families earning less than $50,000 a year backed him too. Just as importantly, he narrowed the gap among many GOP-leaning voter blocs.
OBAMA'S WEAKNESSES: Democratic presidential candidates continued to struggle appealing to whites in Texas - about one-third backed Obama. Still, that was slightly better than John Kerry in 2004 or
Al Gore in 2000. Obama also lost voters over 65 about 2-to-1 - one of the few groups in which Obama fared worse than Kerry did four years ago.
SENATE RACE: Like McCain, Republican incumbent John Cornyn ran well among whites, Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals and Bush supporters. Democrat Rick Noriega ran strongly among blacks, Hispanics and those who named health care as the nation's most pressing issue. But contrasts in the Senate race weren't as sharp as in the presidential contest.
BIGGEST ISSUE: More than half of Texans surveyed on Election Day named the economy as the most important issue facing the country, and those voters narrowly favored Obama for president and split evenly in the Senate race. McCain overwhelmingly won those who named terrorism, but voters said health care, the war in Iraq, and energy policy were more important than terrorism.
FEAR ABOUT THE ECONOMY: Four-fifths of voters said they were worried about the direction of the economy next year - about half said they were very worried.
Exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International among 1,944 Texas voters, most of them as they left precincts Tuesday but including 591 absentee or early voters interviewed by telephone during the past week. The early voters' responses were weighted to represent 55 percent of the total sample - their estimated proportion of the state's electorate. Margin of sampling error plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample, larger for subgroups.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)