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Same split, different state

March 8, 2012, 2:15 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

The exit polls from Tuesday’s tightly contested Ohio Republican primary closely resemble Michigan’s from last week, with Santorum and Romney’s supporters clearly breaking along religious, ideological and class divides.

Once again, Santorum won white evangelicals (47%, compared to Romney’s 30%), and Romney won Catholics (44%, compared to Santorum’s 31%).

Once again, Romney cleaned up with high-income voters. He beat Santorum by 14 percentage points among those who make over $100K/year and a whopping 29 percentage points among those who make over $200K/year.

Once again, Santorum was the right-wing favorite. He won 48% of “very conservative” voters, compared to Romney’s 30%. Santorum also beat Romney by 9 percentage points among voters who “strongly support” the Tea Party.

Once again, Santorum dominated among anti-abortion voters. Two-thirds of those who say abortion is the most important issue voted for Santorum, and he beat Romney by  16 percentage points among voters who think abortion should always be illegal.

What we have here is a clear divide between the well-heeled establishment and the staunchly conservative base. With Romney now a near-lock to win the nomination, it will be interesting to see if he can broaden his appeal beyond the wealthiest Americans and connect not only with social conservatives, but also with middle- and working-class voters. Given the pitched culture-war battles going on right now, that’s an awfully tall order.

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