COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- President Barack Obama's bailout of the auto industry was popular with Ohio voters in the crucial swing state, with most saying they approved of the decision. Voters looking for a strong leader and someone who shared their values went with Republican Mitt Romney, according to preliminary exit poll results for The Associated Press and television networks.
Both candidates did well among their core supporters.
Obama did best among young people, blacks and low-income voters. He also did well among those looking for someone who cares about them. Evangelical Christians and voters concerned about the deficit overwhelmingly supported Romney.
Ohio has been hit hard by job losses, but its unemployment rate is better than the national average, boosted by a rebounding auto industry and growth in manufacturing.
Most Ohio voters said the economy was the top issue in this year's election, but they were evenly split when it comes to whether Obama or Romney would better handle the economy.
Calvin Sutton, a retiree from the Columbus suburb of Westerville, said Obama deserves credit for holding the nation together during a tough time. "I haven't witnessed a depression, but I've witnessed many downturns in my 74 years. And I think that was the worst economic time that I have ever remembered," he said.
Voters said rising prices and unemployment were the biggest economic problems facing them.
"I still think it's stagnant. I think it hurts household values, it hurts education, it hurts everybody more when you have people not working," said Christine McCauley, 46, a stay-at-home mom from Berea, a Cleveland suburb. She's a Democrat but went with Romney.
About a quarter of the state's voters thought the nation's economy was getting better, with Obama scoring high among them. Slightly more thought it was getting worse off, and they were voting heavily for Romney.
Ohioans were no more optimistic about the economy than the rest of the nation despite its better jobless numbers, according to the exit poll results. But the state's voters were slightly more likely to blame former President George W. Bush than Obama for the economic troubles, mirroring the mood of the nation's voters.
About half of Ohioans say at least some of the 2010 health care law should be repealed, while just over four in 10 think it should be expanded or left as is.
Both campaigns made a big push in Ohio in the final weeks before the election.
But seven out of 10 Ohio voters say they had their minds made up before the final two months of the campaign and before the flood of ads and candidate visits. Only a handful waited until the final days to decide.
And it's probably no surprise that a majority of voters in Ohio said each candidate attacked the other unfairly after being swamped with television and radio ads and mailers. Slightly more people said Romney attacked Obama unfairly.
Associated Press writers Tom Sheeran in Berea and Ann Sanner in Columbus contributed to this report.
The survey of 3,754 Ohio voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 50 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 504 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 26 through Nov. 3. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.