Some of the news organizations that subscribe to the National Election Pool exit poll in Michigan are beginning to share preliminary results on the characteristics of those who have voted so far. The New York Times reports via Twitter, for example, that "6 in 10" voters in the Michigan primary "say they're conservative; 3 in 10 say they're very conservative."

If that result holds up, it suggests a slightly more conservative electorate than the exit poll found four years ago. In 2008, 56 percent of Michigan's Republican primary voters identified as conservative and 24 percent said they were very conservative. As the Washington Post reported earlier Tuesday, strong conservatives have been Mitt Romney's toughest group throughout the early primary and caucus states.

The Post also tweeted that just under 60 percent of the voters in Michigan identified themselves to exit pollsters as Republican. That result is also a bit lower than the 68 percent Republican identification in the 2008 Republican primary.

Observers are watching closely to see if a higher percentage of voters identify as Democrats than the 7 percent who identified as Democrats in 2008 exit polls. A big Democratic turnout would signal that the Santorum campaign may have been successful in its effort to convince Democrats to participate in the Republican primary.

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m. --

The New York Times provides an answer, from the preliminary exit poll results, to the question of how many Democrats participated in the Michigan primary:

So did Democrats really come out to vote in the Republican contest more than usual today? It's hard to say: Exit poll results showed that about 1 in 10 voters in Michigan today said they usually think of themselves as a Democrat. In 2008, 7 percent of Republican primary voters identified as Democrat, and in 2000, 17 percent did.
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