Race, Ideology Shaped Super Tuesday Vote With the results of Super Tuesday, Sen. John McCain is the Republican front-runner. On the Democratic side, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a virtual tie. But can McCain unite his party? And what about the gap between Hispanics and African-Americans that the Clinton-Obama race has highlighted among Democrats?
NPR logo Race, Ideology Shaped Super Tuesday Vote

Race, Ideology Shaped Super Tuesday Vote

Super Tuesday's results reinforced the exit polls from earlier primaries, proving that race, class, gender and political ideology do matter in this presidential race.

As she had done in earlier contests, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton won the support of older voters, women, Latinos and those who said they value experience over change. In California, New York and New Jersey, she easily won the Latino vote 2-to-1.

Her rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, appealed to the polar opposites of Clinton's base: the young, the affluent and African-Americans. In California, New Jersey and other states, Obama took more than 75 percent of the African-American vote. Nationally, he also did much better than Clinton with the voting bloc of 18- to 29-year-olds.

In the Republican contests, exit polls showed that independents and moderates favored Arizona Sen. John McCain, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee split the conservative vote.

In states such as New Jersey, McCain appealed to voters who said they valued experience and honesty. Republican voters worried about illegal immigration overwhelmingly favored Romney.

The exit polling was done in 16 states including New Jersey, California, Missouri and Delaware by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool.

For voters in both parties, the economy was the major issue.

But nuances also appeared in these well-worn storylines. Although Clinton took the Latino vote in key states California, New York and New Jersey, Obama won Hispanic voters in Connecticut (which has a similar Latino population to New York's) and made a strong showing with Latino voters in New Mexico — where close to 45 percent of the population considers itself Hispanic.

Huckabee's and Romney's showings also gave pollsters something to ponder. Romney won his home state of Massachusetts, along with North Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado and Montana. But Huckabee won a swath of Southern states, including Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee — his best showing and his only string of victories since the Iowa caucuses.

As for the candidates who are most likely to win their party's nomination, the results of more than 20 contests Tuesday brought the Republican contest into sharper focus, with Sen. John McCain grabbing wins in key states and extending a lead over his remaining rivals.

There is less clarity on the Democratic side, as Obama stuck close to Clinton in the delegate count, setting the stage for an even longer battle for the nomination.

Meanwhile, Romney and Huckabee are vowing to stay in the GOP race despite trailing McCain, who may still be searching for the magic formula to forge a truly "Big Tent" Republican party.

From NPR reports