Republican Asa Hutchinson has been elected Arkansas governor, defeating Democrat and fellow ex-congressman Mike Ross.
The 63-year-old Hutchinson was elected to a four-year term Tuesday in a race national Republicans had identified as their best opportunity to flip a governor's office. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who had defeated Hutchinson eight years ago, was barred by term limits from running.
Hutchinson, a former U.S. attorney, spent four years in Congress and served in the Bush administration as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and later as an undersecretary of Homeland Security. He'd run unsuccessfully for statewide office three times before.
The 53-year-old Ross represented south Arkansas for 12 years in Congress. The two primarily feuded over tax cut plans, with Hutchinson proposing a $100 million reduction aimed at the middle class.
Here are some of the key findings from preliminary results of the exit polling from the Associated Press:
HUTCHINSON STRENGTHS: Republican candidate Asa Hutchinson did well among white voters, those over age 65 and those earning more than $50,000 a year. He also gained support from Tea Party advocates and those who disapprove of Obama.
ROSS STRENGTHS: Democrat Mike Ross fared well among black voters, people made less than $30,000 a year and those who felt the country was on the right track. He also got the support of those who were angry at Republicans in Congress and those who thought health care was the biggest issue facing the nation.
GEOGRAPHY: Ross was fared well in the urban center of Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock, while Hutchinson ran well in the suburbs.