A Look At The Ohio Exit Polls

Voters headed to the polls in 10 states on Tuesday. Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center talks to Robert Siegel about the race in Ohio. He shares a picture of who turned out to vote — what issues were on their minds, as well as how conservative and religious they see themselves.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Ohio is also a state that we'll be watching closely in November. And Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center is pouring over the exit polls from Ohio and joins us now to talk about the voting patterns that are emerging.

First of all, what do we see in terms of how strong a night this is for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum according to the exit poll?

ANDREW KOHUT: Well, it looks to be a pretty close race in terms of the popular vote if this exit poll is accurate. One thing we do see in Romney's favor is the momentum seeming to go his way. Among the 27 percent of the people who said they decided in the last few days, he leads 45 to 34 percent in this exit poll. Among people who decided earlier, it's a more even division, 40 percent for Romney, 36 for Santorum. So there seems to be a little bit of momentum in Romney's direction.

A lot of the patterns, Robert, that we see here we've seen in other states when Romney faced up against Santorum or faced up who - with whoever that non-Romney was in that particular pace. Romney does pretty well among senior voters, 51 to 30 percent margin. But among the middle-aged vote, it's a more evenly divided. And, of course, when you get to younger voters, there aren't that many of them in Ohio. Ron Paul takes a fair amount of them, and Romney comes in third.

The clear pattern that's evident in every race we've seen is a class divide. Among college graduates, 45 percent, so they were backing Romney; 33 percent, Santorum. Among the non-college voters, 36 to 38 percent. We see the same thing with respect to income. Among the people (unintelligible) more than $100,000 - or 100,000 or more, 49 to 31 in the Romney direction. And as we go down the income scale, it gets to be a much more even division of the vote.

SIEGEL: White evangelical Protestants?

KOHUT: White evangelical Protestants, 45 percent of them in this state. They voted for Santorum, 45 percent - 35 percent over Romney.

SIEGEL: That's a very strong group.

KOHUT: That's a very strong group for Santorum. Also people who say that they're very conservative, 48 percent to 33 percent over Romney. And as you go down the scale and get to more moderate people, among the moderate liberals, a small number there, Romney has a 49 to 31 percent lead. So we have class, we have ideology, we have religion mattering. People who say that religion is the most important to them, 49 percent for Santorum, 24 percent for Romney.

SIEGEL: So the exit polls right now show Romney leading by few points or about three or four-point lead going to the exit poll?

KOHUT: Yeah. That I don't think you can bank on early exit polls as predict here. But...

SIEGEL: But if somebody had amnesia and tuned in, they might think we're in Michigan.

KOHUT: That's right. And not only in Michigan, in other places where if you look at the pattern of vote, which, of course, interests me, it's very, very typical of what we've seen. With Romney winning the percentage of people who say that electability is the most important thing by an overwhelming 56 to 27, the second most important characteristic people said was moral character. And here, Santorum wins by 59 to 17.

SIEGEL: Andy Kohut of the Pew Research Center, thanks.

KOHUT: You're welcome.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And just to recap, the Associated Press is projecting that Mitt Romney has won the primaries in Vermont and Virginia. Newt Gingrich has won in his home state of Georgia. And we are awaiting the results from Ohio and the rest of the states that voted today on Super Tuesday.

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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