(AP) - President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney split the male vote in Virginia, but Obama narrowly won among female voters as he again carried the state that Republicans had long dominated in presidential races.
Results of exit polls conducted in Virginia on Tuesday for The Associated Press and the television networks show Obama getting more than 50 percent of the women's vote. Women comprised 53 percent of those who cast ballots in the state.
Democrats sharply attacked the conservative views of Republican candidates on social issues such as abortion during the fall campaign.
The exit polls also found:
As in 2008, Obama fared best among minorities and those under 30. But unlike in 2008, when Obama was strongly backed by those who believe the economy was in trouble, the president was the overwhelming choice of those with a rosier view of the economy and its prospects for improvement.
Romney did best among older voters, whites, and the two-thirds of voters who believe the economy is not so good or poor.
More than 9 in 10 black voters backed Obama, who also drew heavy support from Latino voters.
Six in 10 voters under 30 backed Obama, while a majority of voters 65 or over supported Romney.
Economy was by far the biggest concern of Virginia voters, with more than 6 in 10 listing it as the most important issue facing the country; a slight majority of those voters backed Romney. Of the nearly one-third who said the economy is excellent or good, more than 9 in 10 were Obama backers. Two-thirds of those who said the economy is bad backed Romney. No other issue topped 20 percent. Asked which economic issue affected them most directly, more than 4 in 10 said unemployment, with about 3 in 10 citing rising prices. Fewer were concerned about taxes or the housing market
OTHER TOP ISSUES
Health care was a distant second in the ranking of top issues, followed closely by the federal budget deficit.
About 3 in 10 voters said their family's financial situation is better than it was four years ago, and more than 8 in 10 of those voters supported Obama. More than a third said their situation is worse, and 9 in 10 of those voters backed Romney.
Two in 10 voters said having a president that cares about people like them is the most important quality for a president, and 8 in 10 of those voters backed Obama. Romney was favored by a majority of those who cited shared values, strong leadership and having a vision.
A slight majority felt Obama was more in touch with people like them.
By a nearly 2-1 margin, voters favored keeping abortion legal in most or all cases. Seven in 10 of those supporting legal abortion backed Obama, while eight of 10 opponents supported Romney.
Voters were about evenly divided on whether government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals. Six in 10 of those who said government was doing too much backed Romney, while three quarters of those who believe government should do more to solve problems were Obama backers.
Virginia voters were divided on the nation's new health care law, with about half saying it should be repealed at least in part and a similar share saying it should be expanded or left as is. Nearly 9 in 10 of the law's supporters backed Obama; a similar ratio of those favoring repeal supported Romney.
Half of voters said they thought taxes should be increased for those earning incomes of $250,000 or more, and three-quarters of those voters backed Obama. One- third said taxes should not be increased for anyone, and more than 8 in 10 of those voters supported Romney. One in 8, most of them Obama backers, said taxes should be increased for all.
Tim Kaine won the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Jim Webb with strong support from younger voters and minorities and those who consider themselves moderates. Republican George Allen, like Kaine a former governor, was the choice of older voters, independents and white evangelical or born-again Christians. About 8 in 10 Kaine supporters indicated government should do more to solve problems, while a similar ratio of Allen backers said government should leave more to the private sector.
The exit poll of 3,215 Virginia voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research in a random sample of 50 precincts statewide. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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