Last updated at 8:52pm ET
More Exit Polls: "Exit polls of Wisconsin Democratic voters show Barack Obama continues to run strong with the white, female and working-class voters who have been the heart of Hillary Rodham Clinton's support so far in the presidential race," AP reports.
Preliminary figures show Obama with a slight lead among whites, and he and Clinton splitting the women's vote. Obama's strength also was coming from men and the young.
Solid support for Clinton was coming from less-educated and older voters, two of her other mainstays.
On the Republican side, John McCain and Mike Huckabee were splitting the conservative vote but McCain had a strong lead among moderates. As usual, Huckabee was doing well with white, born-again and evangelical Christians.
Exit Polls: AP has released some exit polls on issues and demographics.
Also, Politico's Mike Allen reports, "Democratic officials with access to exit polls say Sen. Obama looks like he's headed for a huge win in today's Wisconsin primary. The polls could turn out to be off, as they have in the past. ... The party officials said that if the trends reflect in the interviews with hundreds of Badger State voters, the news out of the primary will be: Obama encroached deeply into three of Clinton's core groups of voters -- women, those with no college degree and those with lower incomes -- while giving up none of his own. However, Clinton looked to be winning senior citizens, the officials said."
THUMBS DOWN ON GLOBALIZATION ...
Wisconsin Democratic primary voters were not big fans of globalization. Seven in 10 said U.S. trade with other countries takes more jobs from Wisconsin and fewer than one in five said it creates more jobs for the state. One in 10 said international trade has no effect on the state either way.
... AND PESSIMISM ABOUT THE ECONOMY
Broader economic concerns were apparent. As in earlier primaries, at least half of Wisconsin Democrats said the nation's economy is not good and nearly all the rest said it is poor.
Wisconsin Republican primary voters felt a bit better about the economy, but still, a majority said it was not good or poor.
OPEN PRIMARY TURNOUT
Wisconsin has truly open primaries -- voters choose in the voting booth which party's primary to vote in. The exit poll indicated that, as in earlier open primaries this season, far more voters were participating in the Democratic than the Republican contest. For about one in seven Democratic voters, Tuesday was the first time they were voting in a primary.
As usual, men outnumbered women in Republican primaries while the reverse was true on the Democratic side. About nine in 10 voters in both primaries were white. The Republican electorate was a bit older than the Democratic. Roughly four in 10 in each party were college graduates.
AP reports that Hillary Clinton couldn't have invented a state better than Wisconsin to win a Democratic primary. The state is "brimming with whites and working class voters" who would normally support her unfailingly. A poor performance in Wisconsin would raise serious questions about the strength of her candidacy.
A quick word on polling: Last minute polling can often be erratic and unpredictable, as Jason Linkins shows:
No polling organization has swung as wildly as ARG has since Valentine's Day. Their February 15-16 poll of Wisconsin voters looked like bad news for the Obama campaign and showed enough of a Clinton lead that it made one wonder why the candidate would choose to leave the state
Just days later, however, ARG came out with a poll that suggested a crushing lead for Obama.
Previewing Wisconsin's Big Day: From NBC's First Read:
Does Obama hold on to his momentum? Did the Clinton campaign's attacks on Obama (over skipping debates, waffling on matching funds for the general election, and those Deval Patrick lines) end up working? We could very well find out the answers to those questions in today's Wisconsin primary. If either Clinton wins or Obama wins significantly, the contest could wind up being a real turning point. For instance, a key part of Clinton's coalition so far has been with older and blue-collar Democrats. If she wins, that means she again clobbered him in those groups. But if Obama wins a significant victory, he does it by chipping into these older and blue-collar Dems. And if he does that, watch out Ohio... Up for grabs in Wisconsin's open primary are 74 pledged delegates. On the GOP side, 37 winner-take-all delegates are at stake (broken down by congressional district and statewide vote).
Still A Race: The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the political analysis of Wisconsin across the web, and declares Wisconsin is still a race.
As the Washington Post notes, Clinton hopes her specific appeal in Wisconsin could lead to an upset:
If the crowd of more than 5,000 at Monona Terrace in Madison was any indication, Clinton may give Obama, who leads in public polling, a run for it tomorrow. Clinton didn't pack venues the way Obama did -- his rally at the Kohl Center in Madison last week drew 17,000 -- but her supporters, many of them women, were boisterous and upbeat.
Take Kate Schleitwiler. Early Monday her mom, Caryn Schleitwiler, 50, shook Clinton's hand at St. Norbert College in De Pere, near Green Bay. Then Kate, 22, braved the snow to attend Clinton's rally at Monona Terrace at 8 p.m. Snapping photos with her digital camera and furiously waving her Clinton poster, Kate regularly yelled and occasionally shrieked ("Yeah, Hillary!") as she stood less than 100 feet from Clinton, whom she calls her "personal hero."
An Associated Press analysis notes, "Wisconsin is almost the kind of state Hillary Rodham Clinton would have invented to win a Democratic presidential primary, brimming with whites and working class voters who usually support her. A poor performance there Tuesday would raise big questions about her candidacy."
Massive Turnout Predicted: Election officials in Wisconsin are expecting a huge turnout in today's primary:
State election officials expect turnout to be about 35% of the voting-age population, which would rank Wisconsin near the top of states that have voted.
In earlier states, turnout has generally been higher on the Democratic side, and it is expected to be that way today, with Obama and Clinton locked in a tight race that could last until the national convention in late August in Denver.
The battle to win Wisconsin's primary heats up as whoever wins will receive a significant boost from the Wisconsin's hard-to-predict Democratic primary voters. Both candidates have increasingly sounded populist themes, responding to increasing economic anxiety among voters.
Clinton has stepped up her attacks on Obama on the eve of Wisconsin's primary. Obama is looking for wins tomorrow to continue his momentum, while Clinton is desperate to stop that momentum in advance of the contests in Texas and Ohio, where she is expected to make her last stand.
SEIU Sends New Yorkers To Wisconsin: The SEIU has requested that volunteers from New York travel to campaign in Wisconsin -- for Barack Obama:
A reader passed along this email they say is from an SEIU Local 1199 operative asking if anyone wants to travel to Wisconsin to campaign for Barack Obama, starting tomorrow and going through Wednesday.
In the subject line it says "air, car, accomodations [sic] included". The email goes on to say, "SEIU just officially endorsed and this request just came at us."
Polls Give Obama Double Digit Lead (2/18):A poll released today from Public Polling Policy gives Obama a 13-point lead over Hillary in tomorrow's primary:
Obama leads 49%-45% among core Democrats, and does better than 2-1 against Hillary Clinton among independents and Republicans likely to vote in the Dem primary.
Also, American Research Group, which had Clinton ahead in Wisconsin earlier this week, now gives Obama a 10-point lead, 52-42.
Head-To-Head Matchups (2/18):Survey USA polls to see how both Democratic nominees would far against John McCain:
Barack Obama: 52%
John McCain: 42%
Hillary Clinton: 42%
John McCain: 49%
Obama Far Outspending Clinton (2/18): "Obama has been in Wisconsin for a week. And he's also outspent Clinton on television in the Madison and Milwaukee markets, according to this report. $831,880 to 180,990."
Clinton Leads In New Poll (2/17): According to American Research Group, Hillary Clinton has jumped ahead of Barack Obama.
Democrats Feb 6-7 Feb 15-16
Clinton 50% 49%
Obama 41% 43%
Someone else 1% 1%
Undecided 8% 7%
"Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton among men 48% to 42% (47% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Clinton leads Obama among women 55% to 39%. Clinton leads Obama among white voters 52% to 40% (89% of likely Democratic primary voters), Obama leads Clinton among African American voters 85% to 9% (7% of likely Democratic primary voters), and Clinton leads Obama among Latino voters 50% to 44%."
ARG has had a relatively poor record in predicting previous primaries; it currently is the only firm showing Obama leading in Texas.
State Senate Majority Leader Backs Obama: Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker announced his endorsement of Barack Obama today at the Washington Square Mall in Wausau.
"Listening to Senator Obama speak yesterday about his plan to support technical colleges here in Wisconsin and around the country really sealed the deal for me," Decker, a Democrat from Weston, said in a statement. "It's clear to me that Senator Obama recognizes the importance of training our workforce for the high-end manufacturing jobs that are essential to Wisconsin's economy."
Winter Weather Hits The Trail: Hillary has had to cancel several events due to snowstorms:
A heavy snowstorm forced Clinton to scrap two of her three scheduled appearances in Wisconsin on Sunday. Instead, she toured a grocery store in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood in Milwaukee and visited Miss Katie's Diner near Marquette University, surprising patrons.
Update: Clinton Decides To Camp Out In Wisconsin: Hillary Clinton isn't "conceding the state" after all:
Hillary Rodham Clinton's latest Wisconsin campaign schedule doesn't sound like the battle plan of a candidate who is conceding the state, as some have suggested.
Unofficially, her schedule after Saturday's party dinner (mostly town hall-style events, we're told) looks like this, according to one source:
Sunday: Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison.
Monday: Eau Claire, Wausau, Oshkosh, Milwaukee.
Tuesday morning: Racine.
O's Standing Os: "If the applause at a state Democratic dinner Saturday night was a barometer, Barack Obama would trounce Hillary Clinton 8-0 in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary," Newsday reports.
Speaking back-to-back to a ballroom full of party VIPS and activists at the swanky Founder's Day dinner here, Clinton received hearty applause, while Obama received eight standing ovations.
Each took a few swipes at the other.
"What I'm interested in is not just change for the sake of change, but progress," Clinton said of her rival, whose slogans include "Change we can believe in."
"John F. Kennedy didn't look at the moon and say, 'That's too far, false hope, reality check,'" Obama shot back, in reference to Clinton's suggestions his aspirations are naïve.
Clinton Cuts Campaigning Short: Hillary Clinton will be leaving Wisconsin on Monday to campaign in Texas and Ohio ahead of Barack Obama, according to the Journal Sentinel:
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has scaled back her Wisconsin campaign schedule by a full day, and is now planning to leave the state after Monday morning instead of Tuesday morning.
The move suggests the campaign does not think it can overtake rival Barack Obama here. Obama has already campaigned in the state Tuesday night, Wednesday, Friday, and today. He also has single events planned for Sunday (Kaukauna) and Monday (Beloit).
While the two have exchanged hard-hitting TV ads here, Obama began airing ads a week earlier and has spent much more on TV.
Wisconsin's largest paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, endorses Obama: Read the full editorial.
There is only the tiniest sliver of daylight separating Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the issues, with the notable exception of health care reform.
Even on Iraq, they end up in much the same place: Steady U.S. troop withdrawal, leaving themselves enough wiggle room in case the situation on the ground becomes so dire that more flexibility becomes necessary.
The similarity of views is, in truth, why the candidates return so much to the themes of change and experience.
Our recommendation in Wisconsin's primary on Tuesday for the Democratic nomination is Barack Obama. That's our recommendation because change and experience are crucial to moving this country forward after what will be eight years of an administration careening from mistake to catastrophe to disaster and back again.
The Illinois senator is best-equipped to deliver that change, and his relatively shorter time in Washington is more asset than handicap.
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