'Race' a factor for many Tennessee voters

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Race was on the minds of many Tennesseans when they went to the polls and voted overwhelmingly for Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama, the nation's first black president-elect.

According to exit polls, about a quarter of Tennessee voters said the candidate's race was a factor in how they voted - 16 percent calling it important and 6 percent saying it was their single most important factor.

Those numbers are all higher than the nation as a whole.

But this can be a good thing or a bad thing; an indication of racial pride or fear.

It doesn't explain why Tennesseans, particularly white independents, voted in such large numbers for McCain over Obama. Most said they sided with McCain on fixing the economy and felt he shared their values.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)