Exit Poll Stats Show S.C. Voters Voted on the Issues

Despite the media wanting voters to be conflicted, especially black women voters, it seems as if gender and race played less of a role in this election than the issues themselves and how the candidates address the issues. CNN's exit poll statistics reveal an interesting breakdown among voter demographics.

There have been so many great discussions about the South Carolina Democratic Primary today from PunditMom's post on Race, Gender and the South Carolina Primary to Heather B's poignant post showing that black women will vote on the issues to Maria's Open Thread about the primary. The discussion has been fruitful.

I was actually thinking about this issue of gender- and race-politics yesterday. For the first time, being black and a woman voter seems to mean something to the media. The questions have not been about the issues and how people will vote on how the candidates address the issues, the question (especially with the South Carolina Primary) has been which way will the the voters who are black and women will go: will they vote with their uteri or will they vote with their skin and ethnic heritage? And as annoyed as I am with the media for making this question more of an issue than it should be, in the South, there is another factor involved--and that is the legacy of the Civil Rights Era, regardless of gender. For those living and voting in the South who bore witness to struggles of the Civil Rights Era, having a viable black candidate could indeed mean something significant. But I am sure that's not the only factor in considering whom to vote for, and the exit polls show that despite a large amount of support going to Obama from those voters who have the memory of the Civil Rights Era, there were more ballots cast for him from voters who do not regardless of gender or race.

Right now, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Obama has an outstanding lead with more than 55 percent of the vote to Clinton's 27 percent and Edward's 18 percent. But how did gender or race really play into this election and what about the historical issues at hand?

Let's look at the exit polls:

According to CNN's most recent exit poll: of Black voters who would have been old enough to witness the Civil Rights struggles, 79 percent of those aged 45-59 (which also includes those who would have been too young to remember or not born yet) and 73 percent of black voters over 60 voted for Obama. But, 42 percent of non-black (as CNN is calling it) voters over 60 voted for Clinton, with the remaining 42 percent of the over 60 and non-black demographic voting for their native son, Edwards. Meanwhile, in every other age group except for those aged 30 to 59 and non-black voted for Obama. And despite all of the media hype about the questions of race versus gender, the vote was evenly split between men and women voting for Obama at 54 percent. Of those votes cast for Clinton, 30 percent were from women and 23 percent were from men. For Edwards it was a 23 percent of men to 16 percent of women among the votes cast for him.

So what does this all really mean?
The media will probably portray an Obama victory in South Carolina as having to do more with race than it may have. His votes were earned by a greater portion of voters who are too young to recall the struggles of the Civil Rights era, and with the gender split being equal for him, show perhaps that those voting for him were voting on the issues and not on the basis of setting an historic precedent of having the first black president. Gender does not appear to have had the great weight that the media has created, and while race may have played a part in this election, 52 percent of non-blacks under 30 voted for Obama, thus helping to remove the artifice of race-as-an-overwhelming factor as well.


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