NEW YORK (CNN) - It's certain to be long night, but here are some early indicators I'll be keeping my eye on as the first wave of exit polls roll into the CNN Election Center.
The gender gap:
The bigger it is, the more it helps Hillary Clinton. She needs to do well with women voters tonight in order to carry Ohio and Texas. In nine Super Tuesday primary states Clinton won, men were split, but nearly 60 percent of women voters supported the New York senator. In seven states Obama won that night, the Illinois senator beat Clinton among both men and women.
Much attention has been focused on Obama's ability to rally young voters. The number of these voters that showed up to vote and the proportion that break for Obama will be key to his chances of winning tonight. Senior voters have always been a backbone of support for Clinton, and will likely continue to be so today. In many of the states Obama has won, the youth vote has been heavy and has broken for him better than 2 to 1.
Minority turnout will be crucial, but which minority? African-American voters have solidly aligned themselves behind Obama, and Latinos have usually supported Clinton. This means Obama has had the edge in states where African-American voters make up a significant proportion of the electorate while Clinton has had the advantage in states where Latinos do so. But Texas has both a heavy African-American population and a heavy Latino population. Whichever group has a higher turnout could be key to who wins the state.
Whichever candidate wins among union voters in Ohio could very well carry the state. Even though several major unions in Ohio - like the Teamsters and the Service Workers and the Food and Commercial Workers - have endorsed Obama, the Nevada caucuses proved that union voters don't necessarily vote the way their leaders tell them to. Clinton is banking on strong support from this demographic to help her win tonight.
How much of a role will they play? Independent voters are allowed to vote in all four states today. In the past, these voters have strongly favored Obama. Will their turnout be high enough to tip the scales toward the Illinois senator tonight?
Republicans are allowed to vote in the Democratic primary in Texas. Some conservative commentators, like Rush Limbaugh, are urging them to vote for Hillary Clinton just to keep the Democratic race going. The idea that large numbers of Republicans will vote for Clinton just to make trouble for the Democrats seems unlikely. But lots of unlikely things have happened this year.
Watch Bill Schneider break down the demographics of the March 4 primaries
Related: CNN's Ed Lavandera reports on early Texas voting
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
Open primary allows for more non-partisans to effect the election, which in turn produces more centrist candidates. It not only brings in more people into the Democratic fold but more centrist candidates will have higher likelihood of success in the general election, and they will produce better policies. While some Republicans may vote in the Democratic primary with ill intentions, there is no evidence that their numbers has ever been significant enough to matter. Its good for Democrats and it's good for the country.
I lived in S. Texas and agree with Jed!! Hillary will go on to win the nomination because the DNC is too smart to let a guy with NO experience go up against McCain. He'd be chewed up and spit out.
Does anyone really care what Rush Limbaugh says? I think not.
Blackout on Clinton. No Obama No vote.
The only thing I am looking for is for the Clintons to go home and for them to stop disgracing America!
... maybe all the Independents will vote for Dr. Ron Paul.
It's a shame that politics is still a "big boys club" and the sign on the door says "No Women Allowed".
We, as a country are not ready (unfortunately) to have a woman lead us and succeed where no man could. Clinton is a strong woman and has stood up against more public negativity than any man and she still stands tall and fights for what is good for all of us.
It will be our destruction as another ignorant man leads us.
I BELIEVE THAT OBAMA SEES THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL. I AM RELIEVED AND PROUD THAT HE REMEMBERED RTHAT HE WENT INO THIS CAMPAIGN WITH DECENCY AND REMAINED A STATESMAN. HE WAS RUNNING BE THE PRESIDENT AND NOT THE GARBAGE MAN. TO HAVE TO STOOP TO SOMEONE ELSE" TACTIS ISNT WORTH IT. I AM DEEPLY APPRECATIVE OF THE FACT THAT HE DIDNT MENTION VINE OR RON BROWN. THEY RE DECEASED ALREADY , AND IF HE HAD BY NOW HE MAYBE THE NEXT ON THE LIST.
"The math might be too hard for black enthusiats but should be too easy for a serious Democratic and its leaders."
...That is ENTIRELY racist. Are you voting for Hillary simply because she's white?
"March 4th, 2008 4:55 pm ET
Look at it this way, if Hillary wins you guys in the media can all blame Rush and make it look as if SHE did not win. You and your male counterparts are all male chauvinest pigs. None of you can stand the thought of having to say "Madame President.""
Oh, I'm WILLING to say it. Just not to lying, cheating, scandal-heavy Billary/Hellary. IT's the same with a LOT. Or do you want a bipoalr, lying, cheating, stealing, unrealistic, selfish, arrogant, 'the-presidency-is-my-birthright,' cry when things don't go her way, whine at the media that supported her originally, not-release-my-tax-returns-because-I-have-something-to-hide, can't run my campaign efficiently woman in the White House...?
SENATOR CLINTON WAS NOT CAUGHT LYING!
THIS CANNOT BE DENIED!
IF OBAMA MAKES IT TO THE NOMINATION HOW DO ALL YOU DREAMERS THINK THAT HE WILL FARE WITH THE REPUBLICANS?
THEY ARE CIRCLING LIKE VULCHERS WAITING!!!!!!!!!!!
VOTE FOR THE ONE THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING ON! SENATOR CLINTON!!!!!!!!!!
SHE WILL GO TOE TO TOE WITH THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!
All I have heard for the past two days is how many votes Obama voted present for in his 8 years in the Illionis Senate
How about CNN report that Hillary Clinton MISSED 175 of 2429 votes in the US Senate since she got into the Senate, Jan 23, 2001.
I am sure that this will not be posted because CNN is all negative press for Obama. It's kind of sad, and disappointing that CNN is so biased. Find the news, and print it, and stop waiting for soundbites, and press releases from Hillary Clinton.
Your racist comments are not wanted on this blog, so why don't you do us all a favor and beat it. As far as your calculations go it seems if you need a little dose of reality. Hillary can win every state tonight and still lose the nomination because she will not have caught up to barack in pledged delegates. Do your math my friend. She would have to beat barack 70-30 in both texas and ohio to even come close to over taking him, and if you think that's gonna happen then your even dumber than your comment. Delegates are dispersed proportionately young one, so barack can make up the difference of what he might lose today or in penn when they get to N.C which is the last state with a sizable amount of delegates. It's just too bad that this horrible loser Hillary would rather destroy her own party than help Barack win the nomination in Nov. What a joke
Democracy 101: the winner is based on popularity..the media determines who becomes more popular...the rich control the media...therefore the rich rule. The end result? Democracy is a farce.
Give me a break, Charlotte. I'm a liberal woman in my early 50's. I work in a female dominated job (translation: lower pay, although middle income). I voted for Obama. Am I a male chauvinist?
Hardly. There are reasons to vote other than gender.
Michelle Obama is only just now proud of her country, and doesn't know if she would support the nominee if it were not her husband.
First lady material? I think not.
Hillary wants to split the party if she dont win no one will win. The machine! at its best in better terms sore loser...
"Minority Too" – thank you for the racist comments. You are a fool.
Clinton can have all four states today. Obama won the last eleven, I feel bad for Clinton for losing by 25+ points in so many contests. Obama's smallest margin of victory in the past eleven contests was winning by 17 points. Clinton is a failure. She can win all four tonight (though she won't) and she'll still be far behind in delegates. Poor Clinton – she needs to rely on the superdelegates to overturn the popular vote, which just isn't going to happen. Stop wasting money on commercials and withdraw from the race after tonight, Hillary.
No need to worry about Hillary having an Eva Perrone complex...Bill would never let her lead alone. A vote for "Billary" is a vote for a team Presidency....does anyone else see anything wrong with that besides me?
Experience... experience. . I am sick of hearing it from Clinton any more. In my own opinion, her profound experience was to deal with Bill's affairs, Clinton's scandal... by the way, when is she going to show American her tax returns????
I'm a young (under 35), male, white collar (read $150k/yr) Latino in Texas and am certain that Hillary Clinton is the right choice for leading this country to where it needs to be.
To underline the huge HRC support I see here, I have at least 100 close friends and family members who have or still will vote for HRC here today. So there!
Thank you for changing to Hillary...It is about choices, experience, change, past voting records, and serving the people. I am proud Hillary is making yet another stand against the negative media.
Another business man for Hillary!
Limbaugh's followers are as ignorant as he is...they're hopeless. You can't fix "them." We can only pity them and try to educate them.
Good luck Sen. Obama.
The reason the Republicans are voting for Democrates is because McCain says he aligns himself with Bush's policies. Nobody wants another "Bush follower" in power.
Viva, president Obama.
Rush is scared to death of Hillary as president. If she wins, she'll go after him and Clear Channel.
I'm a recovering dittohead.
After 30 days of not listening to Rush, I'm happy to say that I've recoverd 12% of my normal brain function.