Women key for Clinton in Nevada

January 19, 2008 5:14:11 PM PST
Whites and women helped Hillary Rodham Clinton to victory while blacks overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama in Nevada's Democratic presidential caucuses Saturday, a survey found. In the state's Republican caucuses, one in four participants were Mormons and nearly all of them supported Mitt Romney as he romped in a barely contested race.

Meanwhile, early results of exit polling in South Carolina's Republican primary indicated older voters, conservatives and white evangelical Christians were turning out heavily. Veterans were about a quarter of the overall vote.

The voter surveys for The Associated Press and television networks found: ___ NEVADA DEMOCRATIC CAUCUSES Two-thirds of caucus-goers were white and Clinton won then by 52 percent to 34 percent for Obama. Fifteen percent were black and Obama won 83 percent of them. A similar proportion were Hispanic and they went more than 2-to-1 for Clinton, although the survey could not cover nine at-large voting precincts at casinos on the Las Vegas strip ? sites expected to include many Hispanics among culinary union workers.

Women comprised 59 percent of caucus-goers and they went 51-38 for Clinton, while men split pretty evenly between her and Obama. That was more like the results in the New Hampshire primary than the Iowa caucuses, which Obama won by narrowly defeating Clinton among women.

Black women ? choosing between voting for a black man or a white woman ? supported Obama as overwhelmingly as black men did.

Excluding the casino sites, three in 10 caucus-goers were union members and they split evenly between Clinton and Obama.

Clinton won 58 percent of Catholics, who were 27 percent of the electorate. She won 44 percent of more numerous Catholics in New Hampshire.

Clinton and Obama split most ideological groups, although Clinton won among those who called themselves very liberal. Obama had won that group in New Hampshire but came under attack from Clinton and John Edwards as the Nevada race ended over perceived complimentary comments he made about Ronald Reagan. Clinton also edged out Obama among voters who made up their minds Saturday, though fewer than one in 10 did so.

As he did in Iowa, Obama won nearly six in 10 caucus-goers under age 30 ? but they made up only 13 percent of caucus-goers. Clinton dwarfed that advantage by winning 60 percent of voters over age 60, who were more than a third of the electorate.

Obama won independents by 14 points while Clinton won by 12 among Democrats, who were four out of five caucus-goers.

Half the caucus-goers said it was most important to them that a candidate can bring about needed change, and Obama won 60 percent of them. But Clinton prevailed by getting three in 10 "change" voters plus nearly nine of 10 of those whose top priority was the candidate's experience.

Edwards found no particularly strong support among any voter group as he ran a distant third. Because the Nevada Democratic caucuses used rules like Iowa's, with an initial viability stage followed by final delegate allocations, much of Edwards' support ultimately went to other candidates. Asked their second choice in the entrance poll, four in 10 of Edwards' supporters chose Obama while one-third chose Clinton.