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Obama going strong in Montana

  • Story Highlights
  • Exit polls show 55 percent of white voters in Montana favor Obama
  • Education and income might be the deciding factors in this contest
  • Obama polls well with black voters; Clinton does well with Hispanic voters
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(CNN) -- In a reminder that he can outperform rival Sen. Hillary Clinton in some states largely made up of white voters, Sen. Barack Obama made a strong showing in Montana on Tuesday.

CNN projects that he won the state's Democratic primary.

In exit polling of 1,247 voters, Obama appeared to be the choice of white voters who made up the overwhelming majority of respondents. Whites made up 91 percent in the polling, and those voters said they favored Obama 55 percent to 38 percent.

The performance, on a night he declared victory in the Democratic nomination campaign, will be the type that Obama's campaign points to in the fall. Obama has said he will abandon a Democratic strategy of targeting selected states and attempt a nationwide campaign that includes states thought to be reliably Republican.

The key differences between Montana and mostly white states, like Kentucky and West Virginia, where Clinton handily defeated Obama may be education and income.

People making more than $50,000 a year, a reliably strong demographic for Obama, made up nearly half -- 48 percent -- of the voters responding to the polls. Those voters favored Obama by a solid 62-35 percent majority.

And an impressive 77 percent of respondents to the polling said they had at least some college education, another crowd that's leaned solidly toward the Illinois senator in this year's contests. He took 58 percent of that vote in Montana, compared with 36 percent for Clinton.

In predominantly white states, Obama won primaries in Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin, while Clinton won in Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia. CNN projected that she won the South Dakota primary.

Obama also won caucuses in Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Washington.

In many contests in states with higher black populations, Obama needed only to poll close to Clinton among white voters because he could rely on, at times, more than 90 percent of the black vote coming in for him.

Clinton consistently polled well with Hispanic voters, helping lead to wins in states like Arizona, California and Florida.

And as Obama appears poised to claim the nomination, a slight majority of Montanans said he should choose Clinton as his running mate. Fifty percent of voters said Obama should select Clinton, but 45 percent said he should not.

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