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Originally published Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 11:19 PM

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Gender split over Rossi, Murray in Senate race

Democrat Patty Murray drew support from women, suburban voters and older voters, while Republican challenger Dino Rossi attracted men, rural voters and middle-aged voters in a U.S. Senate race that was too close to call Tuesday.

Associated Press

SEATTLE —

Democrat Patty Murray drew support from women, suburban voters and older voters, while Republican challenger Dino Rossi attracted men, rural voters and middle-aged voters in a U.S. Senate race that was too close to call Tuesday.

Associated Press preliminary exit poll results and pre-election polls show Murray did particularly well among voters who said they were looking for a candidate who understands their needs. Rossi, a former state senator and real estate investor, got a boost from voters who wanted a candidate who could bring change.

More than half of the 2.4 million votes expected were tallied Tuesday night. But it could be several days before all the ballots in Washington's mostly mail-in election are counted.

"Eighteen years is a long time," said Ty Hughes, 62, of Yakima, who voted for Rossi. "Patty Murray has done an excellent job, but we need to have a change."

Leanne Chow, who dropped off her ballot in Seattle Tuesday, said she favored Murray because "she's a great advocate for Washington state."

"Change is good sometimes, but she (Murray) also has practice. We need leaders who are experienced," the 31-year-old said.

With the state's jobless rate at 9 percent, four of five voters were worried about where the economy is headed, and seven of 10 voters said the economy was the top issue facing the country.

Most voters who said they were in a better or same financial position than two years ago went for Murray, while those who felt they were doing worse favored Rossi.

An overwhelming majority who said they wanted government to do more to solve problems and had positive feeling about the way government is working went for Murray.

"We're heading in the right direction, and we need to be patient," said Randy Long 52, an airline ramp service worker, who voted for Murray.

Two-fifths felt Murray agreed too often with the president on issues. The president visited Seattle twice to stump for the Democrat, and Rossi has criticized Murray's support for Obama initiatives, such as the national health care bill and economic stimulus.

Half of voters said Rossi was not in touch with middle-class voters, but Tyler Dow, 27, of Bellevue, disagreed. "I think Patty Murray is a little out of touch, honestly," Dow said.

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Rossi also drew considerable support from voters who had negative views about the federal government and felt it is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.

David McKinney, 41, a financial adviser from Yakima, said the Republican's views line up with his own support for reduced government and spending limits.

Most Washington voters said President Barack Obama was not a factor as they cast ballots in the closely watched race. More than half approved of his job performance.

One-third of Washington voters said abortion should be illegal. About a third said they support the tea party movement.

The survey of Washington voters was conducted for AP by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from a survey of 1,129 voters who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 22 through Oct. 31. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.

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Associated Press writers Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle and Shannon Dininny in Yakima contributed to this report.

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Methodology details: http://surveys.ap.org/exitpolls/

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