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Starting Gate: A Final Look Back

Taking a moment off from the "Clinton watch" which has gripped the political world for the past 72 hours (and will mercifully come to an end tomorrow, maybe), let's take a trip down memory lane, courtesy of Jennifer De Pinto from the CBS News election and survey unit.

An analysis of the Democratic primary, and the exit polling data in 36 states where they were conducted, turns up some interesting nuggets. Start with the fact that more than 37 million voters turned out for the Democratic contests overall (35 million if you discount the non-contested races in Florida and Michigan). That's compared to just over 16 million who participated in the 2004 Democratic primaries.

Who are these Democratic voters? According to exit polls, Democratic primary voters are more likely to be women than men, to be age 45 and over, and nearly half are college graduates. While most Democratic primary voters are white, 32 percent are not. These Democratic voters are concerned about the economy and are looking for a candidate who can bring about needed change.

With the historical prospect of a woman or an African American becoming president, race and gender have played a critical role in the Democratic primaries.

Women made up 58 percent of Democratic voters in the primaries this season and more than half of them backed Clinton in these contests. Men, however, supported Obama.

In terms of the racial make up of the Democratic primary electorate, 19 percent were African American and 12 percent identified themselves as Hispanic. This is in stark contrast to Republican primary voters, of whom fewer than 1 in 10 were black or Hispanic.

Still, most Democratic primary voters are white and Clinton beat Obama by 15 points among them. Obama captured the lion's share of the black vote (84 percent of it). And Clinton won the support of 62 percent of Hispanics and they were key to her victories in the California and Texas primaries.

There had been considerable discussion about the role of white male voters in this primary election. They made up 28 percent of Democratic voters and were somewhat split their vote: 48 percent for Clinton and 46 percent for Obama.

Generally, Clinton was more successful with white male voters in southern states, while Obama made inroads with this group in other parts of the country. White women strongly backed Clinton.

Clinton pretty much had a lock on the blue collar white vote throughout the primary season: 65 percent of blue collar whites supported her, compared to just 28 percent who backed Obama.

While most Democratic primary voters were older, 14 percent were under age 30. Young voters were some of Obama's strongest supporters – 59 percent of them backed the Illinois Senator in the Democratic primaries.

Six in 10 Democratic primary voters had household incomes of $50K or more. 40 percent earn less than that.

Obama did slightly better with voters with household incomes of $50K or more, while Clinton did a bit better with those earning less than $50K.

Education mattered too. Obama won the support of those Democratic voters with a college education, while Clinton ran better among voters with less education.

As expected, most Democratic primary voters identified themselves as Democrats, while about one in five were Independents. Just 5 percent were Republicans. Independents, who were permitted to vote in most Democratic primaries and caucuses this year, threw their support behind Obama. Clinton, however, did better with party stalwarts.

Democratic primary voters were more likely to call themselves liberals (47 percent) than moderates (40 percent) but not by a large margin. Few – 14 percent - said they were conservative. Obama ran a bit better among liberals, while Clinton did better with moderates.

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