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Survey data help explain GOP victories in Kentucky, Mississippi
MIKE MOKRZYCKI, Associated Press Writer Monday, November 10, 2003
Exit polls released Monday help explain Republican gubernatorial
victories last week, finding that Haley Barbour overcame high black turnout
with overwhelming support from whites in Mississippi while Ernie Fletcher
capitalized on ill will toward the scandal-plagued Democratic incumbent
The surveys also suggest that Kentucky and Mississippi,
both of which backed George W. Bush for president in 2000, still lean
his way for 2004.
The exit polls in the Nov. 4 elections were the first
conducted for the National Election Pool, a consortium formed by The Associated
Press, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC after they disbanded Voter News Service
following blown projections in 2000 and computer failures in 2002.
The data weren't released until Monday so that the pollsters
-- Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International -- could validate
the results from this initial live run of their new systems. An Edison/Mitofsky
exit poll in last month's California gubernatorial recall election used
The surveys in 35 randomly selected precincts in each
state included 1,861 interviews in Kentucky and 1,859 in Mississippi.
Results are subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points,
higher for individual groups such as black voters.
In Mississippi, 33 percent of voters were black -- 3
to 6 points higher than in VNS exit polls in the past three presidential
elections -- and 94 percent of them voted to re-elect Democratic Gov.
But 77 percent of whites backed Barbour, propelling the
Washington lobbyist and former national Republican chairman to victory
with 53 percent of the overall vote.
Black turnout may have gotten a boost in Mississippi
because Democratic nominees in two down-ballot races were black. Both
lost, however, as just 8 percent of whites voted for Barbara Blackmon
for lieutenant governor and only 22 percent of whites backed Gary Anderson
Musgrove also lost some support from his first gubernatorial
election in 1999. Among voters who said they backed Musgrove then, one
in four voted for Barbour. And while Musgrove tried to paint his opponent's
Washington ties as a negative for Mississippi, six in 10 voters said Barbour's
experience would help the state.
In Kentucky, 18 percent said one reason for their vote
for governor was to express opposition to term-limited Gov. Paul Patton,
and 84 percent of them voted for Fletcher. Patton admitted having an extramarital
affair and his administration is the subject of numerous investigations.
While 77 percent said Patton was not a factor in their
vote, Democratic nominee Ben Chandler's 52-48 edge among that group wasn't
enough to surmount the anti-Patton sentiment. Fletcher won with 55 percent
of the vote.
Fletcher, a congressman, won 24 percent of self-described
Democrats in becoming the first Republican elected Kentucky governor in
more than 30 years, while just 9 percent of Republicans backed Chandler,
the state attorney general. Independents favored Fletcher 56-43.
Looking ahead to 2004, pluralities of around 45 percent
in both states said they definitely would vote for Bush if the presidential
election were today while about 35 percent definitely would vote for someone
else. Those who haven't firmly made up their minds comprised 20 percent
of the gubernatorial electorate in Kentucky and 17 percent in Mississippi.