January 26th, 2008
07:24 PM ET
10 years ago

Exit polls: The role of race and gender

(CNN) - At first glance, South Carolina’s Democratic electorate seems to be polarized in exit polls Saturday. The candidate with the greatest white male support was the white man on the ballot. The candidate with the greatest support from white women was the white woman in the race. And black voters overwhelmingly voted for the African-American presidential contender.

But that doesn’t mean a person’s gender or race was a reliable predictor of how they would cast their vote. John Edwards didn’t capture a majority of the white male vote, winning the support of 43 percent of that demographic. And Hillary Clinton didn’t capture a majority of the support from white women, winning 44 percent of their votes.

Barack Obama, however, captured an absolute majority of the black male vote, 82 percent. And despite speculation that black women might be torn between Obama and Hillary Clinton, 79 percent of them voted for the Illinois senator.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Exit Polls
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Sean McM

    Am watching the returns on C-Span, and am rather amazed at the Republican callers to the program. They are pleasantly surprised by Obama's winning SC. This is going their way for sure.......Obama is severely limited in his experiences, and they are high now with their hopes of hanging on to the Presidency.....either McCain or Romney will mop Obama off the floor in any debate....he has NO substantive record. Too bad if that happens...

    January 26, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  2. Selly


    January 26, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. had enough

    Divisive headlines and inflammatory, inaccurate use of adjectives in articles online at CNN have been wearing me down. But the straw that broke this reader/viewer's back was the prediction of a winner in South Carolina before even one vote was counted. Bye-bye CNN.

    January 26, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. Robert

    CNN! you have started again, race race race race when will u stop? was it race that won Iowa for Obama or change, who won the rest % of whites in SC? In all of these you will see a dinamic candidate going into the home stretch and in the nearest future you will forget about race.

    January 26, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. Barbara Casas-California

    Praise God the African-American men and women perused all the garbage in the news media this week and voted for the best candidate in South Carolina, ignoring all the noise made by those who would make it a "race" race.

    I pray these kind of totals will prevail through the whole United States right up until the election in November. I like to see intelligent and experienced candidates running for the highest office in our land. Those who look beyond all the hype will always vote their consciences, that is Obama for the Democratic candidate, and Mc Cain for the Republican candidate.

    I seriously contemplated re-registering as a Democrat just so I could vote against HRC, but instead contacted a "higher authority in prayer" and I think most of those who voted in South Carolina did the same thing.

    Go Obama-–Go Mc Cain......now that will be a contest of honesty and clean serious campaigning–may the best man win!

    Yes, I am white, I am a female, , and I am a registered Republican.

    January 26, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. Kimberly


    Why does all the coverage of the primaries switch from the topic of issues to the topic of race the second the south enters the picture? Ridiculous, annoying, and insulting! I don't care about the color or gender of the candidate. The only question that enters my mind is, who is the best 'person' for the job.

    January 26, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. dreyno1

    " Barack Obama, however, captured an absolute majority of the black male vote, 82 percent. And despite speculation that black women might be torn between Obama and Hillary Clinton, 79 percent of them voted for the Illinois senator."

    Hmmmm. Could this be a "Bradley Effect" against Hillary ? A reversal of sorts?

    January 26, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  8. robert

    Whether or not the campaigns were run and based on race, you can not tell me that the S.C. Primary results were not based on race. According to the exit polls 82 percent of an entire race voted for a candidate of the same race. It ridiculous to say that race had nothing to do with the results. I would feel the same way if 82 percent of whites voted for hillary, or edwards, or if 82 percent of any demographic (male, female, white, black, christian, jew, ect.) voted for the same demographic. I'm ashamed to say that our great country is so polarized in this day and time

    January 26, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  9. sam

    CNN has become biased AGAINST the Clintons. This bias has become obvious over the past few weeks. Should the idealism of the press (CNN) trump the reality that we need a Democrat in office and the best Democrat to win that post in November is Hillary Clinton

    January 26, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. independent thinker

    What does race and gender have to do with this election? Why can't people see Hillary Clinton for who she is–someone who is bound to win no matter what she has to do.

    Democrats, STOP HILLARY!!!!!!!!

    January 26, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. sean c

    North Carolina – you all just voted for the best electable honest genuine candidate that has ever qraced politics. THANK YOU !!!

    January 26, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  12. Tony

    The race and gender was introduced by the Clintons and fueled by the press. After Iowa the Clintons faced the real possibility to go to super Tuesday without victories so this helped them although it started fading away in Nevada where Obama still got more delegates. Here it didn't have as much effect as Obama figured out how to more effectively fight it and people realized what is going on. Still, I think this gives Obama a valuable experience in fighting this type of attacks when he faces the Republicans. The attacks although obviously baseless were difficult to fight as some Democrats are still impressed by Bill even when he lies. To Bills supporters, I would like to remind them that his tricks would not work against the Republicans. So keep the Democrats united with better chance to win the general election. Go Obama!

    January 26, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. v

    Given that 50% of the exit polls indicated that the economy was the biggest concern, african american voters missed this importance–Obama is not the best candidate for the ecomomy, as most have indicated. This was clearly a black vote with little concern for the economy. Why is the media implicating Mr. Clinton for causing this racial ideology–this is the Obama campaign–Obama better be prepared for the rest of the country. Economy, Economy, wake up, hes a novice. This country needs to be concerned. The blacks let their community down and the Clintons.

    January 26, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. bok

    I am listining to your spin and i think you are full of it. It's plain to see that the african-american voted for there own as the Irish did for JFK. Please give Hillary a break or the " Silent Majority" will be voting for the Republican nominee because we can't ask Barack Obama a question because we are afraid of not being politically correct. What will the Republican nominee do? He will not be able to ask a question or make a comment either. Please stop your spin and let the people decide after we find out what kind of track record Obama has. God knows we know everything about Hillary and sometimes " the devil you know is better than the one you don't".

    from nj

    January 26, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. kathy

    I am so appalled at cnn's coverage of this campaign and their constant use of emotive words when mentioning the clintons ( they always use the words 'dirty' or mud-slinging' in conjuction with their names. This is objective reporting??
    My friends and I no longer even watch cnn or msnbc-try pbs. It has become apparent that the same idiotic media that constantly bashed gore and kerry and gave us bush (how's that working for us?) is now doing it again. They also gave us the war in Iraq by shilling for bush nonstop. They have never liked the clintons because the clintons don't kiss up to them and actually try to help people and not the corporate masters of the press. I am disgusted with the press in this country. Boycott-–money is the only thing they respond to

    January 26, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. Told Ya So

    HAHAHA. Looks like Blacks DO pick race over substance. The exit polls show big trouble for Obama in the Feb. 5 states. Not many young voters showed up and he got a tiny amount of the white vote. He will probalby win another 3 states and that will be that.

    January 26, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Tracy

    What I find most disappointing about the S.C. results, is that after accusing the Clintons of playing the race card, blacks went to the polls and did the exact same thing.......By the way, I am a black female.

    January 26, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. v.ananthan

    When you look who voted for who there can^t be any surprises..

    January 26, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  19. Meg

    Well CNN did a good job on determined who will win in South Carolina ...yet that iits one state not the entire state!! and only the Democrats voted so I say that was not much of win for Mr Obama especially that Democrats are mostly black , so It was a big consolation prize for obama

    January 26, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  20. Bob

    What is really sad is that the voters are not informed. Information is out there. Polls are out there. The white males, primarily voted for a Democrat for President by voting for Edwards. The blacks, primarily voted for a Democrat for President by voting for Obama. The women, primarily voted for a Republican for President by voting for Clinton, because the information available tells us that she will be in a squeaker in November and we know what that means. This is exactly what the Republicans want and what they can deal with. This means that we will have more Supreme Court nominees who are corporatist and the Constitution will continue to be shredded. The vote for Clinton also means that the women don't want a change at all.


    January 26, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. Diane Krupski

    I am inscenced that you would call the race before one official vote was sent in!

    January 26, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. Linda Nelson

    I am a Caucasian or European American, is it possible when graphing the results in this election that you list my demogrphic as such? Does the term "white" exist when we are no longer using the term "black?" Political correctness is annoying but if we are going to be politically correct shouldn't we go all the way? Seeing "white" and "African-American" looked absurd.

    January 26, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Barbara, NH

    The motto for 4-H is: making the best better.

    Why can we not (women, men, young, old, white,blacks, christians, jews, mormons, tall, short, fat, skinny or whatever) make America not only the best country to live in but make it still better by voting for the INDIVIDUAL that will fill these shoes.

    Why do we have to be put into a catagory? Women DO NOT have to vote for women, Men DO NOT have to vote for men. Blacks DO NOT have to vote for blacks, Whites DO NOT have to vote for whites. Take the blinders off and vote for the INDIVIDUAL that will help Americans (all Americans) the most.

    January 26, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. d

    I think all media outlets are very bias towards Obama....fear factor, who knows!

    January 26, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  25. Christine

    As I am Canadian, I can only speak as an observer with a keen interest in the current political campaign, particularly on the Democratic side. I feel that the media had a tremendous influence on the results in South Carolina by effectively criticizing and demonizing the Clintons. The media knows it has the power to make or break just about anyone it chooses. So what's up?

    January 26, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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