By The Associated Press
Highlights from preliminary exit polling in Virginia Tuesday for The Associated Press and television networks:
McAULIFFE'S STRENGTHS: Democrat Terry McAuliffe was faring well among women, blacks, low-income voters, abortion-rights supporters, city dwellers and people affected by the recent government shutdown.
CUCCINELLI'S STRENGTHS: Republican Ken Cuccinelli was doing best among whites, tea party supporters, opponents of the federal health-care reform law, gun owners and rural residents, and he held a slight edge among independents.
ETHICS: Nearly three in 10 said neither major party candidate for governor has high ethical standards. Nearly half of those voters backed McAuliffe, three in 10 supported Cuccinelli, and one-fifth favored Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Barely over one in 10 said both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are ethical.
TOP ISSUES: The economy was the top issue for nearly half of voters, followed by health care and abortion.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: About one-third of voters had someone in their household affected by the recent government shutdown, and more voters blamed Republicans in Congress than President Barack Obama for the closure. Cuccinelli's backers overwhelmingly blame Obama, while McAuliffe's supporters just as strongly blame Republicans in Congress.
THE ECONOMY: About nine in 10 voters are worried or very worried about the economy, but of the few who are not worried, the vast majority are McAuliffe supporters. Cuccinelli had the edge among those who listed the economy as their top issue.
HEALTH CARE: Voters are about evenly divided on the federal health care reform law, with McAuliffe supporters favoring it and Cuccinelli backers opposing it, both by wide margins.
HOW THEY'RE PERFORMING: A slight majority disapprove of Obama's performance, while a similar percentage approve of Gov. Bob McDonnell's performance.
ABORTION: Six in 10 voters said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, and more than two-thirds of those voters supported McAuliffe. Of the 20 percent who listed abortion as the top issue, six in 10 backed the Democrat.
The preliminary exit poll of 2,376 Virginia voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research in a random sample of 40 precincts statewide. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
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