AUGUSTA (AP) – Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign for change and Republican Susan Collins’ carefully nurtured independent brand both won decisive followings in Maine’s presidential and U.S. Senate voting, according to Associated Press exit polls.

Chris Irvine, 45, of Hallowell, said concern over the economy was a prime motivator as he voted for Obama and Collins inside the Hall-Dale elementary school just outside of Augusta.

“The first time I voted Democratic for 10 years,” he said, explaining his presidential vote while adding he always voted Republican at the state level.

“It’s change,” he said.

Kristin Aiello, 41, said it was that and more.

“It’s not just I want change and I’m reacting against Bush,” said Aiello. Aiello said she embraced what she believed Obama stands for and also voted for Democrat Tom Allen, the six-term 1st Congressional District representative, over Collins.

Collins, too, built up winning margins north and south.

Another Hallowell voter, 54-year-old John Scronce, said his focus had shifted in recent months from the Iraq war to the economy but that in any event he voted Democratic and that it was time to see “what somebody else can do. … I think people are curious about what Obama is going to do. McCain, I think we know,” he said.

One bright spot for McCain was his edge among older voters, age 65 and over. By income and level of educational achievement, however, Obama ceded no grouping.

The Senate race was closest – neck and neck – among voters at the lower-income level.

The exit poll of 1,504 Maine voters was conducted for AP by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International in a random sample of 30 precincts statewide Tuesday. The survey did not cover those who voted before Election Day in Maine; their vote preference and answers to other survey questions may have differed from those interviewed. Exit poll results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

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