About 4 in 10 Nevada voters said their own family's financial situation is worse today than it was four years ago, but about a quarter said they are in better shape and the rest about the same.
"I think it's at about a standstill, actually," said Jodi Carness, 40, an Obama backer who works at a marketing firm in Las Vegas. "I have a job, and I actually don't know a lot of people who don't have a job, but just based on inflation, I just feel like it will get better. We're not there yet."
Both candidates had poured tens of millions of dollars into Nevada to blanket the airwaves with ads in pursuit of the state's coveted electoral votes that could settle the presidency. But exit polling suggests a lot of the money spent down the stretch was a waste — nearly three-fourths of Nevada voters said they had settled on their choice for president before Labor Day.
Bernice Delabarre of Boulder City, who said she favored Romney because he shares her values and thinks Obama is ruining the country, made up her mind "way before that."
"Probably Jan. 21, 2009," said Delabarre.
Turnout topped the 1 million mark statewide, with nearly 81 percent of the Nevada's active registered voters casting a ballot this election, eclipsing 2008's general election turnout of 80 percent.
Voters from families with incomes under $100,000 sided with Obama, and those in excess of $100,000 with Romney, according to the preliminary exit poll results. Nevada voters whose family income totals less than $50,000 backed Obama 2-to-1.
Romney enjoyed a 2-to-1 advantage among the one-fifth of Nevada voters who identify themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians.
Married voters also favored Romney — married men by at least 10 percentage points in the exit poll — while unmarried men sided with Obama and non-married women went that way by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
The one-third of Nevada voters who said the most important quality in their candidate was that he had a vision for the future were divided between Obama and Romney. The one-quarter who said their candidate shared their same values and the one-fifth who said their candidate is a strong leader also favored Romney while the final roughly one-fifth who cited "cares about people like me" sided with Obama by as much as an 8-to-1 margin.
Nevada voters overwhelmingly said that abortion should remain legal; only about one-third think it should be against the law.
On health care, voters were almost split on whether they believe the federal law should be expanded, left as is, or completely or partially repealed. When it comes to immigration, 6 in 10 voters believe that illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status. Half as many want illegal immigrants deported.
The survey of 4,141 voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 47 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 1,104 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.