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Sen. Barack Obama continued his strong showing among Independents in the Wisconsin Democratic primary. According to the Edison/Mikosfky exit poll as reported by the Washington Post, Independents chose the Illinois Senator by a factor of two to one – 64% to 33%. This was marginally higher than his share of Independents in the Virginia and Maryland primaries held on February 12.
Of the 787,000 votes cast in the Wisconsin primary, the exit poll indicated that 28%, or approximately 220,000, were cast by Independents. At 64% of this amount, Independents would have made up 7.7% of his 15% advantage over Sen. Clinton. Also, the 7.7% explains approximately the difference between the 5% lead Obama had in pre-primary polls with the final result. If Obama continues to hold his advantage with Independents, it would seem safe to add 3-5 percentage points in his favor to any pre-primary polls of Democrats expected to vote in the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4.
Also worthy of note is that Sen. Obama won across the political spectrum in Wisconsin. Exit polls put Liberals at 46% of those voting, 56% of whom went with Obama and 42% with Clinton. Of those who self-identified as Moderate/Conservative, Obama’s advantage was 59% to 41%.
Should Obama continue to draw heavily from Independents and win his party’s nomination, Independents will have played a key role in determining each party’s national candidate. How Independents break in the national election appears likely to determine who wins in November, and where this country is headed for the next four years. And remember, Ohio and Texas are open primaries.
Get out there and vote!