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Exit poll shows women, whites recalled Davis

Female and white voters streamed to the polls Tuesday in California's recall election.
Female and white voters streamed to the polls Tuesday in California's recall election.

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(CNN) -- As some political pundits ponder what's next for California with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the governor-elect, statistics and analysts reveal which voters showed Gray Davis the door and why.

Exit polls reveal that most of voters who cast ballots in Tuesday's recall election were white, female, Republican, college-educated and financially comfortable, with more than half of interviewed voters reporting a household income of $50,000 or more.

Poor people, minorities and people with little or no education -- arguably the portion of the electorate with the most to lose or gain -- stayed home

Of more than 4,000 exit poll interviews collected, 3 percent were of Asian descent, 6 percent were black voters and 18 percent were Latino. Most of the voters casting ballots, 40 percent of them, were between 45- and 64-years old; 52 percent were female and 70 percent were white.

Minorities, who went to the polls in significantly smaller numbers than whites, tended to vote for California's Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante as Davis' replacement. Among blacks who participated in the exit poll, 64 percent voted for Bustamante and 52 percent of Latinos gave the Hispanic Democrat their backing.

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Antonio Gonzalez, a Latino political expert, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday evening that "... Bustamante's campaign had trouble from the beginning. ... Cruz suffered from the division among Democrats," he said. "His campaign was almost stillborn from the beginning, and we're seeing really what you get is the ideal Republican scenario: Latinos essentially divided and neutralized as political players."

Republicans and Democrats voted in almost equal numbers, the polls indicated, with 38 percent of voters identifying themselves as Democrats and 39 percent as Republicans.

Jeff Greenfield, a senior political analyst for CNN, said, "The irony here is that the Republican Party embraced Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a candidate that probably -- based on recent California history -- could not have survived the Republican primary."

"But because there was a recall election, because there was no primary, they were able to put in a guy who... fits the profile of California," Greenfield said. "This is a state where even Republicans want to win with a candidate who is more moderate on social issues."

William Schneider, a political analyst for CNN, said that he believed the acceptance and voter sentiment was likely more anti-Davis than pro-Schwarzenegger.

He "ran a very successful campaign as an outsider," Schneider said about Schwarzenegger. "The voters were very angry. What made voters so angry? ... When (Davis) was first elected, only 20 percent said the economy was poor or not very good. ... This year, 83 percent of the voters of California said the economy was in not good or poor shape."

The discontent was cumulative, Greenfield said, and that's why the recall prevailed.

"What we're seeing here," he said, "is something that's been building for quite some time, a bad economy, electrical brownouts, a governor so personally unpopular that he barely survived against a weak opponent less than a year ago. ... The people of California have channeled their middle-class populist anger into a surprising and unprecedented political event."

Almost a quarter of people who voted, said their total family income topped $100,000, and half of them voted for Schwarzenegger. Most of Bustamante's voters reported earnings of less than $30,000.

And fewer women voted for Bustamante than the victor. Many voters perceived Bustamante to be closely aligned with Davis and the failed economy, analysts said. And exit polls showed 36 percent of female voters selected Bustamante, and 43 percent favored Schwarzenegger in spite of last minute allegations of groping and sexual harassment that dogged the actor cum politician.

Julie Vandermost, of the California Women's Leadership Association, said her organization was pleased with the results. "We are very happy," she said. "We were very upset about all the regulation, the taxation and the pandering that was coming out of the Davis camp. And we are very excited that we'll have common sense back in California."


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