, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

February 5, 2008

Officials predict record turnout in Massachusetts primary

BOSTON (AP) -- Former Gov. Mitt Romney looked to the loyalty of Massachusetts Republicans to carry him in his home state over surging Republican rival John McCain, while voters here had a tight race to settle between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Cold rain and sleet covered much of the state early Tuesday but officials still expected a record number of people to vote in the primary in Massachusetts, one of more than 20 electing delegates on Super Tuesday.

Whitman Police Sgt. Harry Bates said there were about 40 people waiting in line there when the polls opened at 7 a.m.

"For a primary, this is unusual," Bates said. "I think the competition on both sides -- that's enhanced the public interest in coming out for the primary."

A steady stream of voters entered a heavily democratic precinct in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Outside, supporters of Senators Clinton and Obama held signs and shouted last-minute arguments.

Bob Poland, a 49-year-old travel agent, said he chose Clinton based on her experience.

"Obama seems like a nice guy, but I'm just worried he doesn't have enough experience to be president," said Poland, who also cited Clinton's stance on health care and economic issues.

In Topsfield, Marcia Spector described her decision to vote for Obama over Clinton as a difficult one.

"I just feel that he is dynamic and he is for change. He doesn't bring the baggage. I think he's more electable actually," said Spector, 58, an English as second language teacher.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin predicted a heavy turnout in both Democratic and Republican primaries, with more than 30 percent of the electorate showing up at the polls -- a number he said could climb even higher.

Massachusetts may seem like the ultimate Democratic stronghold, but the single largest group of voters here -- slightly more than half of the electorate -- are not enrolled in any party.

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