Posted: February 5, 2008 6:53 PM
Obama Projected Winner in Early Peach State Primary
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was projected to handily win the Georgia Democratic primary, scoring an important early victory over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., according to the Associated Press.
Much like his landslide victory in South Carolina last month, Obama’s win was largely attributed to the overwhelming support he received among the state’s black population, who make up about 50 percent of Democratic voters.
Both candidates had made a strong push to court the black vote, each visiting the state several times. Obama delivered a speech at Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church in Atlanta the day before the King holiday. The next day, Bill Clinton also campaigned at the church for his wife — hoping to gain some of the support that help Bill win the state in 1992.
Clinton and Obama had split the backing of Georgia’s top leaders — including civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who supported Obama, and Rep. John Lewis and former Atlanta Mayor and Rep. Andrew Young, who backed Clinton.
But Obama won the endorsement of Georgia’s largest newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which in its editorial argued that Clinton has “too often chosen to play within the Washington system rather than dare to challenge its assumptions.”
The paper ultimately chose Obama because “Different moments in history require different types of leaders, and part of the art of picking a president is matching the person to the challenge and to the time … Obama is the person; this is his time.”
As in many other Super Tuesday states, voter turnout in Georgia was high, state officials told the Associated Press. County officials projected that between 30 and 35 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot, up from 17 percent in 2004.
But high turnout, coupled with a new law requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballots, resulted in long lines at many voting sites. The AP reported in the afternoon that the Obama campaign would request to keep some Atlanta voting sites open later than scheduled to account for the delays.
While some voters blamed the delays on a lack of staffing, state elections spokesman Matt Carrothers told the AP, “In a presidential election year with highly contested nomination races on both parties, lines are a function of the popularity of the contest.”
Most polls had showed Obama with a strong lead over Clinton going into Tuesday’s contest.