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Obama claims Virginia

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/12/potomac.primaries/index.html Obama claims Virginia, CNN projects WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama will win the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 12 4:16 PM
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      http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/12/potomac.primaries/index.html

      Obama claims Virginia, CNN projects

      WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama will win the
      Virginia Democratic primary, CNN projects based on
      exit polls.

      The polls closed at 7 p.m. ET, and the Republican race
      between Sen. John McCain and Mike Huckabee remains
      competitive.

      Obama also finished ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton in
      all five of the Democratic contests last weekend.

      Voters are participating in the so-called "Potomac
      primaries" -- named for the river that separates
      Virginia and Maryland and flows past the nation's
      capital.

      Residents in Virginia, Maryland and the District of
      Columbia were voting Tuesday.

      Polls in Maryland and the District of Columbia close
      at 8 p.m.

      At stake in the primaries are 168 Democratic delegates
      and 113 total GOP delegates.

      In Maryland, turnout was anticipated to be about 40
      percent, which is above normal according to Ross
      Goldstein, deputy administrator for the state's Board
      of Elections.

      However, Goldstein said some anticipated inclement
      weather later in the day could lower turnout numbers.

      Virginia election officials also predicted a higher
      than normal turnout of 30 to 40 percent for the
      state's primaries.

      High turnout was reported in the northern part of the
      state and in Richmond and Charlottesville, according
      to Virginia Board of Elections spokeswoman Susan
      Pollard.

      There were reports of 45-minute lines in counties
      around Richmond, she said.

      Mark Coakley, the general register for Henrico County
      said the turnout in his Richmond-area county was
      record breaking.

      "It's our first ever-dual primary so regardless it
      would be record breaking," he said.

      At an Alexandria, Virginia, polling station, election
      officials said they were seeing a steady turnout.

      "We're getting good, consistent turnout. We started
      out with over 20 people at the gate when we opened up
      the doors at 6 a.m.," election official Chris Tatem
      said. "We're averaging maybe a hundred an hour of
      people that push through here, which is good."

      At around 1 p.m. Tuesday, the polling station's
      precinct chief Tom Fina said, "We're almost at the
      same level as we were last year for the Virginia
      elections."

      "Today with almost 700 votes before the day is much
      more than half over, we are running considerably ahead
      of the past experience that we've had," he said.

      High winds swept through the state on Sunday and
      Monday knocking out power in some areas and forcing
      some polling stations to relocate. The storms knocked
      out power to 50 stations, election officials said, but
      power had been restored to all but eight of them.
      Generators were used to restore power at some
      locations.

      District election officials did not give an estimate
      of overall turnout, but two precincts in Washington
      ran out of ballots, according to Bill O'Field, a
      spokesman for the District Board of Elections.

      Several other precincts had to have more ballots
      delivered due to higher-than-expected turnout.

      The demographics in Tuesday's primaries suggest Obama
      could pull off a political hat trick over rival Sen.
      Hillary Clinton. However, the senator from New York
      said Obama's recent success doesn't faze her because
      future primaries will swing her way.

      The devil is in the demographics for Democrats.
      Maryland, Virginia and especially the District of
      Columbia have large numbers of African-American and
      affluent white voters. Obama has fared well in the
      past with both groups.

      Previous exit polls indicate Obama also has done well
      with independents voting in Democratic contests, and
      Virginia's open primary permits independents to cast
      ballots for either party.

      In total delegates, Clinton tops Obama 1,157 to 1,145,
      according to CNN estimates. The breakdown paints a
      slightly different picture, as Obama leads 989 to 923
      in pledged delegates, and Clinton is winning among
      superdelegates 234 to 156.

      Superdelegates, a group of almost 800 Democratic Party
      officials and leaders, are not required to make their
      votes public and are free to change their minds.

      In the Republican race, the question is whether McCain
      can start to unify the Republican party behind his
      all-but-certain nomination.

      McCain is leading the only other Republican candidate
      in the race, Huckabee, 723 to 217 in total delegates,
      according to CNN estimates. A GOP candidate needs
      1,191 delegates to secure the nomination.

      But Huckabee is coming off a big win Saturday in
      Kansas, where he won by double digits, and another
      narrower win in Louisiana.

      McCain edged out the former Arkansas governor in the
      Washington caucuses, but Huckabee is questioning the
      result.

      Huckabee has done well with Christian conservatives
      and rural voters, and McCain's performance last
      weekend suggests the GOP, particularly conservative
      voters, are not quite ready to unite behind him.

      McCain, however, scoffed at the notion that the former
      Arkansas governor could close the over 500-delegate
      gap that separates the two GOP contenders.
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      "We are doing fine. We have 700 and some -- close to
      800 delegates, and the last time I checked Gov.
      Huckabee has very few," McCain said.

      "So I think I am pretty happy with the situation that
      we are in." He said Tuesday he was "guardedly
      optimistic" about the Potomac primaries.
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