President Barack Obama fared well among Virginians who want a president who cares about people like them while Republican challenger Mitt Romney was favored by voters wanting a strong leader and one who shares their values.
Those were among the highlights from preliminary exit polling in Virginia on Tuesday for The Associated Press and the television network. The exit polls found:
As in 2008, Obama did 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.
RACE: More than nine in 10 black voters and just more than half of Hispanics backed Obama.
AGE GAP: Six in 10 voters under 30 backed Obama, while the same ratio of voters 65 or over supported Romney. The split was about even for those in the middle of the age gap.
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; nearly 6 in 10 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, 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.
FAMILY FINANCES: About 3 in 10 said their family's financial situation is better than it was four years ago, and nearly three-quarters 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 three-quarters of those voters backed Obama. Romney was favored by a majority of those who said shared values, having a strong leader and having a vision for the future are most important.
Voters in Virginia were split on whether Obama or Romney 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, while the same ratio of those favoring repeal supported Romney.
Nearly 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. Nearly 4 in 10 said taxes should not be increased for anyone, and more than 8 in 10 of those voters supported Romney. One in seven, most of them Obama backers, said taxes should be increased for all.
Democrat Tim Kaine had strong support from younger voters and minorities and those who consider themselves moderates, while Republican George Allen was the choice of older voters, independents and white evangelical or born-again Christians. Eight in 10 Kaine supporters indicated government should do more to solve problems, while the same ratio of Allen backers said government should leave more to the private sector.
The preliminary exit poll of 2,978 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.