Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) won the Dem primary in PA – an important swing state – with a respectable 10-point margin (55 percent to 45 percent) over her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (IL).

Both Hilary and Obama held onto their core supporters, and neither made inroads into the other’s base. Women, senior citizens and less educated voters went for Hillary, whereas men, those under age 30 and highly educated voters clung to Obama. But considering that Obama spent $11.2 million on TV ads – more than twice the amount his rival spent – he should have been able to “close the deal,” as Hillary put it.

Exit poll data from voters in 40 precincts across PA showed that one in 10 – half of them Republican, half of them independent – changed their party registration so they could vote in the state’s closed primary.  Sixty percent of them said they voted for Obama.

Other exit poll results:

† Although the candidates spent six weeks campaigning in PA, 20 percent of voters decided for whom to vote within the last week. Nearly 60 percent of them supported Hillary, suggesting that his weak performance in last week’s debate and the ensuing tit-for-tat advertisements the two candidates ran had a negative effect.

† According to 2005 census data, PA is 86 percent white, and Hillary won 60 percent of these votes, including two-thirds of those without college degrees and an equal number of those whose household income was less than $50K. She also beat Obama amongst white men by a 10-point margin. For his part, Obama won 9 out of 10 black votes overall, and had a strong showing in Philadelphia – which has a large black population – as well as in the city’s suburbs, home to well-educated, liberal whites.

† Gun owners – roughly four out of 10 voters – regular churchgoers and those living in rural areas of the state residents all supported Hillary by 60 percent to Obama’s 40 percent.

† With the candidates bashing each other’s brains out all week, Dems are becoming increasingly polarized between the two. Roughly half of each candidate’s supporters say they could support the other candidate in the general election.

Hillary overwhelmingly won the votes of Reagan Dems in the NE part of the state – particularly in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area – voters who are the likeliest to cross over to John McCain (R-AZ) in the general election, should Obama be the alternative. Hillary’s win adds weight to her claim that she is better able to defeat McCain in the fall. The pressure is now on Obama to win decisively in IN and NC on May 6th – meaning, he must significantly erode Hillary’s blue collar support regardless of the margin – so as to render moot her argument to the superdelegates that he is unelectable.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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