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Exit polls: Economy top voter concern

Trade and loss of jobs apparently resonated among voters

Trade and loss of jobs apparently resonated among voters

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CNN's Bill Schneider reports Wisconsin voters responded to Sen. John Edwards' stance on jobs and the economy (February 18)
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Democratic delegates at stake in Wisconsin: 72

Unpledged "superdelegates" from Wisconsin: 15

Delegates needed to win Democratic national presidential nomination: 2,161

Percentage of national delegates represented in Wisconsin: 1.66

Who can vote today: Any registered Wisconsin voter, the primary is open

Compiled by Robert Yoon and Mark Rodeffer

America Votes 2004
Presidential primaries

(CNN) -- The economy was the top issue among voters in Wisconsin's presidential primary Tuesday, and trade in particular emerged as an issue that resonated with them, according to exit polls.

More than a third of those who responded to pollsters cited the economy as the top issue for them, and more than three-quarters said they thought the national economy was not good or poor.

Health care and the Iraq war were each cited by around one in five people leaving voting places.

The economy's significance for those who responded to pollsters was borne out by their answer to another question: whether their family's financial situation has improved compared to four years ago.

Only about one in five said it had, compared with around two in five who said it was worse and slightly more than one-third who said it was the same.

Tuesday's voters appeared to have a dim view of trade. Roughly three-quarters of those responding said trade with other countries leads to job loss, and only a few thought trade creates jobs.

Trade was something of an issue in the Wisconsin race. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, for example, stressed his opposition to NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement -- during a candidates' debate Sunday.

Wisconsin has lost some 80,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000, and some critics of NAFTA -- a sweeping trade agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico -- say it has contributed to U.S. job losses.

Wisconsin's Democratic primary was open, meaning independents and Republicans could cast votes as well.

Independent voters

Exit poll data showed that roughly four out of 10 voters Tuesday were not Democrats. Most of those identified themselves as independents and about one in 10 said they were Republicans.

The data showed Edwards did better than Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts among independent voters, but Kerry did better among Democrats.

Edwards, who picked up key newspaper endorsements this week, also enjoyed a late surge in support.

Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they made up their minds within the past week, and nearly half of those said they voted for Edwards, according to the exit polls.

-- CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider and Polling Director Keating Holland contributed to this report.

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