WASHINGTON - The economy was a major concern for Democratic voters in yesterday's primaries, according to preliminary data from exit polls.
In Ohio, six in 10 voters said the economy is the most important issue facing the country, more than said so in any of the 25 other Democratic primaries with exit polls this year. More than half of Rhode Island Democrats and nearly as high a proportion in Texas picked the economy as the top issue out of three choices.
In Vermont, almost as many voters picked Iraq as picked the economy - the first Democratic contest this year in which Iraq was considered about as important as the economy.
As in other Democratic primaries this year, few voters yesterday viewed the nation's economy positively. But Texas Democrats were relatively optimistic, with one in seven saying the economy is in good condition - as high a proportion as in any other state.
A whopping eight in 10 voters in Ohio's Democratic primary said international trade takes more jobs from the state than it creates. In the other three states voting yesterday, the split was closer to six in 10.
About one in three Ohio Democratic voters were from union households, a group that has leaned slightly toward Hillary Clinton so far this year.
Like Ohio, Rhode Island has lost many manufacturing jobs, and Democratic voters there seemed skeptical about the benefits of global trade. More than half of those polled said foreign trade takes jobs from the state. Fewer than one in five believed that international trade creates jobs.
Sources of support
Independents a big factor
In Ohio, Republicans voting in the Democratic primary voted six in 10 for Obama, while self-described independents split between Clinton and Obama. In Texas, Republicans and independents voting in the Democratic primary split about evenly between Clinton and Obama. In Rhode Island and Vermont, independents went mostly for Obama.
The primaries in Ohio, Texas, and Vermont were open to all voters. Rhode Island's registered independents could choose which party's primary to vote in.
Exit polls results were based on partial statewide samples of voters in 40 precincts each in Ohio and Texas and 20 each in Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as a phone survey of early voters in Texas.