By The Associated Press
Preliminary results from an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks in Kentucky's Democratic presidential primary Tuesday and a phone poll during the past week in Oregon's vote-by-mail primary:
Kentucky had one of the least liberal electorates out of 33 competitive Democratic primaries in which exit polls were conducted this year - only about a third of voters called themselves liberal. In contrast, Oregon was among the most liberal Democratic electorates to date, with close to six in 10 voters in the state's vote-by-mail primary calling themselves liberal. In most primaries to date, Hillary Rodham Clinton has done better with more conservative voters, Barack Obama with those who are more liberal.
Kentucky continued a recent trend in Democratic primaries with voters overwhelmingly picking the economy when given three choices for the most important issue facing the country. Oregon defied that trend. About two-thirds of Democratic voters in Kentucky said the economy was the top issue, about 20 percent picked the Iraq war and half as many said health care. In Oregon, fewer than half picked the economy, three in 10 said Iraq and two in 10 said health care.
Voters in Kentucky were quite a bit more likely than in Oregon to say the current recession or economic slowdown has affected them and their families a great deal. Kentucky Democrats also were more likely than their Oregon counterparts to say it's a good idea to suspend the federal gas tax this summer - an idea Clinton has promoted and Obama has criticized.
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE OR NOT
As Obama has built a daunting lead among convention delegates, his own supporters in both Kentucky and Oregon were nearly unanimous in thinking he will secure the Democratic nomination. Many Clinton voters maintained hope for their candidate but substantial numbers acknowledged Obama as the likely nominee - half of Clinton voters in Oregon and a third in Kentucky said Obama will win the nomination.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
All balloting was by mail in Oregon's primary and the phone poll asked when people voted or planned to. The survey found Clinton ran stronger among those who voted earlier while Obama ran better among those who mailed or delivered their ballots closer to election day.
In Kentucky, three in four voters said they made up their minds more than a month ago.
THE JOHN EDWARDS ENDORSEMENT
Nearly two in 10 Kentucky Democratic voters said John Edwards' endorsement of Barack Obama was a very important factor in their vote and nearly three in 10 said it was somewhat important. The question wasn't asked in Oregon, where the phone poll began before Edwards announced his choice.
As usual for this Democratic primary season, Clinton tended to run better in both states among older voters, those with lower income and less education, and those in rural areas, while Obama strengths included the young, urban, wealthier and better educated voters.
Results from a partial exit poll sample conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International among 951 Democratic primary voters in 30 precincts across Kentucky and telephone polling May 12-18 among 1,201 people who said they definitely had voted or definitely would vote in Oregon's vote-by-mail Democratic primary.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)