Va., Md., DC Primaries Today
People in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC are voting in primaries for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.
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Democrat Barack Obama looked to continue his winning streak in three mid-Atlantic presidential primaries Tuesday, while rival Hillary Rodham Clinton turned her attention to a future round of contests. Republican John McCain sought to rebound from two weekend losses to Mike Huckabee and reinforce his position as the inevitable GOP nominee.
Coming off weekend victories in five contests, Obama was favored to win the primaries in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia thanks to a blend of black and better educated voters in those areas, blocs that have aided his wins in earlier matchups against Clinton. Likewise, McCain was favored on the GOP side.
On the Republican side, McCain hoped to rebound with three wins Tuesday en route to his likely nomination. The Arizona senator lost contests in Kansas and Louisiana during the weekend, but managed a narrow win in Washington state caucuses that Huckabee is now challenging.
Early turnout was heavy in Virginia, which does not have party registration so voters can participate in either primary. By 9 a.m., voters had to wait as much as 45 minutes in some localities, Board of Elections spokeswoman Susan Pollard said.
"We have had heavy voter turnout in a variety of different localities throughout the state," Pollard said. Richmond voter registrar J. Kirk Showalter said, "It's a good strong turnout."
Interest in the close Democratic contest was evident from spikes in voter registrations and absentee balloting in the region.
In Virginia, a total of 32,166 people had requested mail absentee ballots by last Tuesday's deadline, and nearly two-thirds of them were for Democratic primary ballots. In the first two weeks of the year, 37,025 met the Jan. 14 deadline for registering in time to vote in the primaries. Of that, 61 percent of the new registrants were 24 or younger.