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Women supported Schwarzenegger, exit polls show

Elections officer Lisa Rapp directs voters at the polling place in the Kern County Fair Grounds Harvest Hall in Bakersfield, California.
Elections officer Lisa Rapp directs voters at the polling place in the Kern County Fair Grounds Harvest Hall in Bakersfield, California.

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Political analysts Bill Schneider and Antonio Gonzalez break down the impact of the Latino vote. (October 8)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Even with reports alleging sexual misconduct by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the candidate picked up more than 40 percent of the votes cast by women in Tuesday's recall election, according to CNN exit poll results.

Those polls show Schwarzenegger with about 43 percent of the female vote, while his nearest competitor, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, received the support of 37 percent of female voters.

Men voted heavily for Schwarzenegger, the exit poll results showed.

Schwarzenegger's campaign had been dogged over the past six days by allegations from at least 15 women that he groped and sexually harassed them in incidents as recent as 2000 and stretching back three decades.

Women were featured prominently on the rostrum at his speeches Monday. Both his wife, Maria Shriver, and her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President Kennedy, were on hand to offer public support.

The exit polls also showed Democratic Gov. Gray Davis with only a 27 percent approval rating. CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield compared his approval rating to that of President Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

Seventy-two percent of those who voted said they disapproved of the governor's performance.

About 83 percent of those asked as they left the polls described the state's economy as "not good" or "poor."

Even Latino voters, who were expected to vote against the recall and for Bustamante, were split after leaving the polls.

Exit poll results show that 47 percent of Latino voters said they approved the recall, and 53 percent said they voted against it. Thirty percent of Latinos voted for Schwarzenegger, and 52 percent voted for Bustamante, a Democrat and Latino.

"Cruz suffered from the division among Democrats," said Antonio Gonzalez, a Latino political expert. "What you get is the ideal Republican scenario -- Latinos essentially divided and neutralized as political players."

CNN analyst Bill Schneider described Latinos as a "swing vote" rather than a "bloc vote," as had been expected before Election Day.

Exiting polling also showed that Schwarzenegger won the election despite a perception -- by nearly two-thirds of those who responded -- that he never addressed voters' issues on the campaign trail.

Schwarzenegger scored highly among those who said a candidate's personal attributes are more important than the issues.

Of those polled, 56 percent said that was the case with Schwarzenegger, while 27 percent said the same for Bustamante.

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