Exit poll: Ideologies divide Ohio primary voters

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks in Perrysburg, Ohio, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. A new Ohio Poll shows Santorum leading Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but with many Republican voters still assessing their choice for the March 6 primary. (AP Photo/Sentinel-Tribune, J.D. Pooley)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio voters divided along ideological lines between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum on Tuesday, according to early results from an exit poll in the state. Voters were focused on finding a candidate who could defeat President Barack Obama in November, and nearly two-thirds said they were committed to backing the eventual Republican nominee no matter who wins.

Voters who listed the economy as a top issue favored Romney over Santorum by about eight points, with a smaller lead for Romney when it came to voters who listed the federal deficit as their chief concern. Romney’s advantage on the economy was slimmer than in any previous state except for South Carolina. Fiscal conservatives were about evenly divided, although Santorum carried the “very conservative” by a nine-point margin.

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