Posted: February 5, 2008 7:07 PM
Republican Candidates Locked in Dead Heat in Georgia
Results will start rolling in soon from Georgia, as the state’s 7 p.m. poll closing is the earliest in the country. Early reporting from precincts shows all three major candidates in a dead heat.
Georgia holds the largest chunk of Republican delegates among the southern states, with 72. In two other southern states, Alabama and Tennessee, polls will close at 8 p.m.
Political analysts are watching these states to see what Evangelicals and other conservative voters will do.
In recent days, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has tried to woo these voters, telling them that a vote for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will hand the election to Arizona Sen. John McCain.
“The fight in the Southern states will be among Huckabee and McCain to see if McCain can do well among conservatives,” Emory University political scientist Merle Black told the Chicago Tribune.
Local papers were reporting high voter turnout and long lines to vote in Tennessee and Georgia, and exit polls showed that most Georgia Republican presidential primary voters thought it was important that a candidate share their religious beliefs, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
All three candidates have made stops in Tennessee in the past week, and Huckabee and McCain have both campaigned in Georgia and Alabama as well.
Polls taken last week showed McCain leading with 31.8 percent of the vote in Georgia, followed by Romney with 28.5 percent and Huckabee with 26 percent, according to an average of polls by RealClearPolitics.com.
But Huckabee may be making a last-minute surge. A poll released this afternoon by the Atlanta-based pollster Insider Advantage shows him tied with McCain at 32 percent, with Romney at 29 percent.
Finally, if the race remains undecided after tonight, voters in several other southern states — Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi — will cast their votes in the next few weeks.