Slushy sidewalks and overcast skies did little to dampen local voting turnout yesterday, as 55 percent of Newburyport's registered voters made it to the polls with Sen. Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney emerging as local favorites.
But the city's Democratic ticket bucked the statewide trend, as Sen. Hillary Clinton earned the most votes statewide — and the most votes in most other local towns. Still, the race between Clinton and Obama remained tight nationwide with no senator looking poised to secure the nomination.
Obama, the Illinois senator, didn't win by much in Newburyport, edging out Clinton by just 28 votes, 2,339 to 2,311, according to unofficial results. He also edged out a bare-bones win in Newbury, 795-764. Statewide, Clinton secured almost 58 percent of the vote as of press time, with Obama securing just 40 percent.
Scott Smith, who lives on Carter Street in Newburyport and works in the high-tech industry, said he voted for Obama after being impressed by his positive message.
"I feel he is a potential uniting force," Smith said after voting. "I like his positive, can-do message."
On the Republican ticket, Newburyport mirrored the rest of the Bay State, with Romney taking more than 50 percent of the vote, or 1,062 votes. Sen. John McCain of Arizona earned 878 of the 2,094 votes cast.
Mike Huckabee came in a distant third place with 55 votes.
It looked that McCain, the front-runner going into Super Tuesday — in which more than 20 states voted or caucused — maintained his momentum yesterday and would likely clinch the Republican nomination. Pundits predict that while McCain looks like a lock for the GOP, the Democratic nomination may be up for grabs for weeks to come.
Turnout wasn't just impressive in Newburyport: in Amesbury, 4,828 residents or 43 percent voted; Salisbury saw 2,228 voters or 40 percent turnout to the polls; and 53 percent, or 2,068, Merrimac voters cast their ballots.