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Exit Poll Madness!

5:30 PM, Nov 3, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Nothing on the big picture, but the internals are fair game.

In Virginia and New Jersey, the No. 1 issue is unsurprisingly economy and jobs:

The economy and jobs are the number on issue on the minds of voters in Virginia, according to data from CNN exit polls Tuesday.

Forty-six percent of Virginian voting Tuesday, as Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds faced off for the governor's mansion, say that the economy and jobs are the most important issue to their vote. One in four indicate that health care reform is their most pressing issue, 14 percent said taxes were upmost on their minds, and 8 percent suggest that transportation woes were most pressing.

New Jersey:

Nearly a third of the voters heading to the polls in this off-year election pitting Democratic Gov. John Corzine against Republican Chris Christie, 31 percent, said the economy was the most important issue, while 26 percent said property taxes, 20 percent indicated corruption and 18 percent identified health care.

Soaring property taxes and a high profile corruption sting that snared state and local officials have been important issues in this year's election.

Both New Jersey and Virginia polls suggest Obama is less of a factor than he was expected to be:

The early exit polls in Virginia and New Jersey are in (out?) and the most striking thing to us in the data is that a majority of voters in both states said that President Barack Obama was not a factor in their vote and in each state the chief executive's job approval rating was above 50 percent.

While these are early returns -- we CAN'T emphasize that strongly enough -- they do suggest that Obama's role in determining the outcome of either race (for good or bad) may have been overstated (gasp!) in the run-up to today's vote.

It'll certainly help the White House out with a talking point.

By all accounts, things are very close in New Jersey, to the point that Democratic strategist Pat Caddell wonders, "Will Christie's lead be steal-proof?"

Mike Murphy on N.J. exits: "Early, and totally incomplete, NJ exits show Christie's issues big. Good sign."