NEW VERS Exit poll — Minnesota voters’ top concern is economy

By Chris Williams

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota voters were worried about the economy and looking for a president who could change things. They picked Barack Obama.

But Obama wasn’t just the winner on the change question. Preliminary exit polling data showed him picking up support from voters both rich and poor, and from all corners of the state.

The polling found that nearly two-thirds of election day voters thought the economy was the most important issue facing the country, with the war in Iraq a distant second.


About 90 percent of voters said they thought the economy was in "not so good shape" or worse. A nearly equal share were worried about the direction of the national economy next year.

Both Obama and Republican John McCain promised a break with the past during their campaigns, a solid appeal in a state where about three-quarters of voters disapproved of how President Bush was handling his job.

Half the voters thought McCain would continue Bush’s policies, and of that group, about 90 percent went for Obama. Among those who thought McCain would break with Bush, about eight in 10 voted for the self-described maverick.

Voters were about tied in their reasons for picking their presidential candidate. They wanted a candidate who would bring about needed change, or one who shared their values. Obama took about 90 percent of the change voters, and about four in 10 of the values voters.

Obama made inroads in parts of the electorate that often go solidly for Republicans. He was about tied in the collar of suburbs around the Twin Cities — an area that Bush won by about 10 points in 2004 even as he lost the state. Obama was also about even in the more conservative and rural western part of the state.

Obama won among the nearly 80 percent of voters from families making less than $100,000 a year, a group that often aligns with Democrats, and he was about tied among families that make $100,000 a year or more. Four years ago, Bush won that group.

Self-described independents were about a quarter of the voters on Tuesday, and in the presidential race they broke heavily for Obama.

While Obama easily carried Minnesota, the state’s U.S. Senate race was close, with Democrat Al Franken unable to replicate the broad appeal of the top of the ticket.


For example, more than half the voters Tuesday called themselves Protestant or another Christian religion. They were about evenly split between Obama and McCain for president, but went heavily for Coleman in the Senate race.

While Franken was holding the DFL strongholds in the Twin Cities and the Iron Range, Coleman was leading in the suburbs around the Twin Cities and the rural west. Coleman was also much stronger among those higher-income families.

Independent Dean Barkley was drawing double-digit support in all four geographic regions, but leading in none of them; the exit polling showed him with support from Obama and McCain voters in about equal shares.

Six in 10 voters agreed that both Franken and Coleman attacked each other unfairly during the campaign. In contrast, about 40 percent of voters thought McCain and Obama both attacked each other unfairly.

The exit poll of 2,381 Minnesota voters was conducted for AP by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International in a random sample of 45 precincts statewide. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

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