Sen. Hillary Clinton scored an impressive win in the Nevada caucus on Saturday, adding to the momentum her campaign was riding following its victory in New Hampshire. And if Nevada's entrance polls provide any indication, she may be expanding her political base even further.
According to entrance poll data compiled by CNN, Clinton's support in Nevada came from those groups and individuals long thought to be firmly behind Sen. Barack Obama.
Among Democratic caucus-goers, Clinton bested Obama among those who said the Iraq war was the issue of greatest import, 44 percent to 39 percent. Obama has long battered Clinton for her support of the invasion, believing he could tap into the anti-war sentiment shared by Democrats and even some Republicans.
Clinton also beat Obama, 46 percent to 35 percent, among voters who said that electability was the quality they cared most about in a candidate. One of the central tenets of the Obama campaign has been that, unlike any other candidate, he could win the general election with bipartisan support -- a governing mandate, as the Illinois senator often claims.
Finally, Clinton had majority support from those voters who described their ideology as moderate or somewhat conservative, a stark contrast to conventional wisdom, which held that Obama offered more appeal to those who are centrist in their political philosophies. The findings are even more curious in the aftermath of the statement Obama made earlier in the week in which he placed his candidacy in the same historical light of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
There were other telling entrance poll statistics. Clinton bested Obama among Latino voters -- an ethnic group that holds increasing sway in the Democratic electorate -- by a margin of 64 percent to 24 percent. She won those voters who said they found the Democratic debate on Tuesday night important. She won the majority of males and females, as well as voters at every income level.
These results should, of course, be considered with the caveat that Nevada, like every state, has its own political intricacies and is not reflective of the entire country.
Obama did beat Clinton in a few areas, mainly among those voter demographics which he has won in the previous two contests. Younger voters supported the Illinois Democrat in droves, especially in the 18-to-29 age range, as did African-Americans. And those who identified their party affiliation as Independent also supported Obama by 46 percent to 35 percent. Finally, among those voters who said the top quality in a candidate was his ability to bring change, Obama beat Clinton 57 percent to 29 percent.
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