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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

TOO CLOSE TO CALL: OBAMA AND CLINTON BATTLE DOWN TO THE WIRE; HILLARY CARRIES SOUTHERN CD; OBAMA TAKES ABQ; APPEARS TO WIN 1ST CD; HE WINS NORTHERN CD 

  • RUNNING TOTAL---Obama---65,728--42.89% to Hillary--42.97%--65,845--as of 1:16 a.m. 181 of 184 NM polling locations now reporting. What a race! There are over 16,000 provisional ballots that will have to be counted to settle this thing. That counting will commence at 9 a.m. Obama has carried Santa Fe County by about 4,000 votes. He took the 3rd CD as the exit polls suggested and he appears to have won the ABQ CD as well. Hillary won the southern congressional district.
  • Rio Rancho logjam slows vote count. Only one place to vote for all the Dems in the city. They stood in line until well after 8 p.m. Party says it was "error in judgement."
  • NM Dem Web counting site
Hillary narrowly carried the NM absentee vote--1643 for Hill; 1586 for Barack; 645 for Edwards. Exit polling says Obama carried two of NM's three congressional districts--ABQ and the North. The polling says Hillary carried the Southern district. As for the overall statewide vote, the exit poll indicates a narrow Obama victory. We are awaiting actual returns to confirm these exit poll trends released by the major networks tonight. That northern congressional district needs to be watched for actual vote totals as Clinton was expected to carry the region. A sever winter storm could have dampened turnout there. We shall see. Hidalgo and Curry County results have been posted on the party's Web site. Check there for continued updates. Hillary won both counties. Los Alamos County went for Obama 57% to Hill's 36%. Hillary carried Mora county. Voters were still in line at 7 p.m. We will have a total of 184 precincts to count.

The exit poll of 905 voters has Obama holding Hillary's Hispanic vote below 60% among younger Hispanics. For example, he scored 43% among Hispanics aged 30 to 45.

Dem officials say party rules dictate that official results be held until all voters in Rio Rancho cast ballots. Rio Rancho

Take a look at that exit poll I linked to at the top of the page. It has a treasure trove of demographic information on NM's voters.

Our spotters check in with reports of a strong turnout and some problems for the NM Dem Prez caucus, especially in Rio Rancho. In ABQ, Steve Cabiedes reported: "Turnout is heavy at Wilson Middle School in the SE Heights. It was also heavy at Montezuma Elementary not far from UNM. People were circling trying to find places to park. (Still going strong after 6 p.m.)

Lines were an issue at many locations. Our spotters say patience is required at many voting sites as the volunteer poll workers struggle to keep up. For example, long lines in Rio Rancho in Sandoval county slowed voting considerably. There were at least 1,500 people waiting to vote late today at Rio Rancho High, according to KRQE-TV which reported the school was the only Rio Rancho voting location. Some reports said the wait at Rio Rancho to vote was up to three hours.

Many locations ran out of paper ballots. That happened at Acoma Elementary in the ABQ NE Heights. Ballots were being brought in from state party headquarters. The paper ballots will be hand counted tonight and results phoned in to the party.

With the long lines in Rio Rancho, results could be delayed a while. Anyone who is in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. The election is run by the Democratic Party. The state has no role in today's election. Only Democrats can vote today. State Party Chairman Brian Colòn issued a statement calling the turnout "amazing." Obviously, the party was caught off guard in Rio Rancho by having only one voting location for all the precints there. That seems to be the major snafu of this Election Day.

At Hoover Middle School in the NE Heights about 100 Democrats were lining up to vote at 1:30 p.m. which is notable because that is past the lunch hour when voting could be expected to be heavy. In ABQ's downtown area, Wells Park Community Center was heavy as polls opened. Our spotter said over 100 people voted there in the first hour of balloting. The ABQ Trib reported about 35 people were lined up to vote at Apache Elementary in the far NE Heights when polls opened.

From another of our blog spotters who voted at Monte Vista Christian Church near Monte Vista and Campus in NE ABQ: "It took us 40 minutes to get through the line even with four lines to check folks in. Since it only takes 30 seconds to vote, I'd say lots of votes are being cast.

From Hobbs, in SE NM, we get this report: "It is a good turnout here in Hobbs. Over 300 people so far at my polling place..." We also are hearing of good turnout in Roswell and Deming.

Observers told me network news exit pollsters were spotted here, so we should have some good NM demographic information on who voted in NM today.

In Santa Fe, voting is heavy at the Santa Fe Fairgrounds. Nash Garcia reports: "At the Fairgrounds it took 40 minutes from time of entrance to time of vote completion. Arrived at 12:25 and departed at 1:05." More on Santa Fe voting here

In Tesuque at a location where five precincts voted, about 350 cast ballots in the first two hours--another good turnout.

We are also getting reports of quite a few people showing up to vote who are not listed on the Dem registration rosters. They are being given provisional ballots. Those ballots will not be counted today, but will be on Wednesday.

Initial signs point to a solid turnout in ABQ. There are 184 voting locations around the state, fewer than in a regular election. Also, polling hours were restricted, adding to the crunch at the polls. Some of the problem may be blamed on the party not budgeting enough money for the caucus. But since Governor Richardson was running, our caucus was expected to be a low-key affair. But that all changed when he dropped out and the Obama-Clinton battle became so intense.

Democratic consultant Harry Pavlides said based on today's reports he projects a total voter turnout in excess of 125,000. He had it right on caucus day 2004. The state party said it prepared 150,000 ballots and the party chairman said tonight voter turnout could approach that number.

The polls opened at noon and close at 7 p.m. We'll keep you posted with our live blogging. We will wrap the NM action here and tonight on National Public Radio heard in ABQ/Santa Fe on KANW 89.1 FM.

Email your voting day news.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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