RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Strong support from voters who were white, male and older helped carry Republican Mitt Romney to victory over President Barack Obama in closely contested North Carolina and to elect Pat McCrory as the state's first GOP governor in 20 years.
Romney and McCrory also fared best among those who said the economy was the most important issue, according to the results of an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks. Among other findings:
Seven in 10 voters Tuesday were white, and two-thirds of them chose Romney. One in 5 voters were age 65 or over, and more than 6 in 10 of them picked the former Massachusetts governor. The Republican also had a clear lead among the 6 in 10 voters who said the economy was their top issue. He got the support of 2 of 5 voters who called themselves moderate, a clear improvement over Republican John McCain's performance in 2008.
African-Americans comprised about a quarter of the state's voters, and 19 out of 20 of them voted for President Barack Obama. One in five voters said health care was their most important issue, and the Democrat picked up three-quarters of those voters. One in five voters said the most important quality in a president is that he cares about people like themselves, and Obama received three-quarters of those votes.
One in 6 voters were age 18 to 29, and Obama got two-thirds of those votes. But it was a significant decline from 2008. Obama picked up nearly half the voters in rural areas of the state in 2008, but that dropped to just more than one-third in 2012.
ECONOMY IS NO. 1 ISSUE
Voters were split on whether Obama or Romney would do a better job of handling the economy. Rising prices and unemployment were the economic issues that voters said hit them the hardest. Slightly more than 1 in 5 voters said they were better off now than four years ago. Four in 10 voters said Obama was more to blame for the country's economic problems, while about half of voters blamed former President George W. Bush.
There wasn't much change in the gender or race of North Carolina voters in 2012 compared to four years ago. Slightly more women than men voted. Seven in 10 voters were white, while about a quarter of voters were black.
About 1 in 4 voters said they were enthusiastic about Obama's administration, and about 1 in 4 said they were satisfied with the president. About 3 in 10 voters said they were dissatisfied and 2 in 10 said they were angry with the president. One in 10 of the voters who were dissatisfied with Obama still voted for him.
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