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Poll: Obama appealed to previous GOP supporters

By JOHN FLESHER, Associated Press Writer

DETROIT, Nov. 5, 2008 (AP): Barack Hussein Obama built a juggernaut in Michigan by winning big with the traditional Democratic base and peeling away voters from groups that might have been expected to oppose him, an exit poll showed.

The economy was by far the biggest issue—and the more concerned people were, the stronger their support for Obama. He also received nearly unanimous backing Tuesday from blacks, who exceeded their usual solid support for the Democratic nominee.

But he also fared better than Democrats such as John Kerry and Bill Clinton among some who had trended Republican in recent elections, including white men and Catholics. He even made small inroads with GOP stalwarts such as conservatives and white evangelical Christians.

``I agree more with what Obama stands for than the current Republican attitudes,'' said Terri Harris, 46, a retired Air Force veteran from Saline who voted Republican previously but went with Obama this year.

Abbas Ammar, 23, manager of a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn Heights, described himself as a moderate Republican but voted a straight Democratic ticket.

``I see Obama as more of a conservative Democrat,'' Ammar said. ``He has really solid family values—he stands for what the common American stands for.''

Considering the depth of Michigan's misery, the election might fairly be described as a referendum on who was better suited to fix the economy. On every question related to that subject in the poll, a majority gave Obama a bigger vote of confidence than Republican John McCain.

Those who said they were very worried about the economy, as opposed to concerned somewhat or not at all, backed Obama by nearly 2-to-1. His strongest support—nearly seven in 10—came from very worried voters with 2007 household incomes of less than $50,000.

The poll results showed Obama rolling up a big victory margin by equaling or exceeding Democratic nominees' performances in recent elections with key groups.

Voters under age 30 usually vote strongly Democratic. Yet the nearly two-thirds majority they gave Obama outdid their support of Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000 or Clinton in his back-to-back victories in the 1990s. Young voters made up about one-fifth of the electorate, roughly the same as in other recent elections.

Meanwhile, the over-65 age group had been about evenly divided in recent elections, despite narrowly supporting Gore. But they gave Obama stronger backing in Michigan than Gore, Kerry or Clinton had received—even though McCain, at 72, was one of them. Nationwide, McCain won a slight majority among the elderly.

White Catholics, who had sided narrowly with Bush, this time broke about even, perhaps slightly favoring Obama. He was the runaway winner among those describing themselves as non-Christian or having no religious preference.

Obama even improved his showing among the most reliable Republicans: white evangelical Christians. About one in three voted for him, slightly better than Kerry managed.

Nearly two out of three moderates, a crucial swing group, voted for Obama. They also supported his Democratic predecessors going back to Clinton in 1992, but again by smaller majorities. Obama also held his own among self-described conservatives, getting the votes of about one in five—about the same as other recent Democratic nominees.

One in 10 Republicans crossed over to Obama, a bit more than backed Kerry but fewer than voted for Clinton in 1996.

The survey of 3,096 voters was conducted for AP by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Most were interviewed in a random sample of 50 precincts statewide Tuesday; 504 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline telephone over the last week. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

Methodology details: http://surveys.ap.org/exitpolls/





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