Posted: February 12, 2008 9:13 PM
McCain Projected to Win Va., Despite Huckabee's Conservative Support
Arizona Sen. John McCain inched closer to claiming the title of the Republican nominee on Tuesday after earning a narrow victory in Virginia’s primary, according to projections from the Associated Press and major news networks — overcoming a formidable challenge by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. who earned support from the state’s conservative voters.
News outlets waited to call the race after exit polls revealed a closer-than-anticipated contest on the GOP side. Huckabee won more widely conservative parts of the state’s southwest while McCain captured the eastern counties, a washingtonpost.com results map shows. The win awards all of Virginia’s 60 delegates to McCain in the state’s winner-take-all contest, giving him in a wider lead over Huckabee.
The third Republican on the ballot, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, did not win any counties.
In Virginia’s exit polls, a third of Republican voters described themselves as very conservative, and two-thirds of them backed Huckabee, according to the AP. Among those describing themselves as somewhat conservative, McCain held a slight lead and had the support of two out of three moderates.
But in a surprise change, those who described themselves as independents - usually a group that has supported McCain in past elections - were split evenly between McCain and Huckabee. Virginia holds an open primary and does not have party registration, meaning voters can cast ballots for either party.
As expected, Huckabee had overwhelming support from white born-again and evangelical Christians — who made up four in ten voters — with seven out of ten of them voting for the former Baptists minister, the AP reported.
Results for the District of Columbia and Maryland have yet to be determined. Officials in Maryland extended polling hours until 9:30 ET because of bad weather.