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Obama, McCain sweep Potomac primaries

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/12/potomac.primaries/index.html Obama, McCain sweep Potomac primaries WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sens. John McCain and Barack
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 12, 2008
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      Obama, McCain sweep Potomac primaries

      WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama
      will claim victory in all three contests in the
      Potomac primaries, CNN projects.

      Obama had a substantial lead over Hillary Clinton in
      Virginia, and McCain was ahead of Mike Huckabee by
      about 7 points, according to CNN projections.

      In the District of Columbia, Obama was leading Clinton
      75-23 percent, and McCain was leading Huckabee 67-17
      percent, with about half of the precincts reporting.

      Polls in Maryland were supposed to close at 8 p.m. ET,
      but a judge extended voting for an extra 90 minutes
      due to icy roads and heavy turnout.

      McCain is leading Huckabee 812 to 217 in total
      delegates, according to CNN estimates. A GOP candidate
      needs 1,191 delegates to secure the nomination.

      Obama's wins give him more delegates than Clinton for
      the first time since the Iowa caucuses. According to
      CNN calculations, Obama has 1,195 delegates to
      Clinton's 1,178.

      To clinch the Democratic nomination, a candidate must
      get 2,025 delegates.

      Obama had led in pledged delegates, but Clinton had
      held the lead when superdelegates were factored in.

      The Illinois senator has now won eight consecutive

      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.

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

      Conservative voter turnout was high in Virginia,
      helping Huckabee there, exit polls showed.

      Evangelical voters made up more than 40 percent of the
      electorate and were breaking for Huckabee nearly 3 to
      1 over McCain, exit polls showed.

      In 2000, 55 percent of Virginia GOP voters identified
      themselves as conservative. This year, those voters
      made up 68 percent of the electorate, and they were
      breaking for Huckabee over McCain by 16 percentage

      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

      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

      "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

      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 Clinton.
      However, the senator from New York said Obama's recent
      success doesn't faze her because future primaries will
      swing her way. Video Watch as Obama seems to be on a
      roll while Clinton regroups »

      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. Video Watch as Clinton
      downplays Obama's recent victories »

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

      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

      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.

      "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.

      CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Erik Tavcar contributed to
      this report.
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