Tennessee: Clinton, Huckabee win

February 5, 2008 9:14:21 PM PST
Two candidates with strong ties to neighboring Arkansas racked up Super Tuesday wins in Tennessee, as women voters helped Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and born-again Christians and conservatives backed Republican Mike Huckabee. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Huckabee had 33.9 percent of the vote, about 2 percentage points more than Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks show Huckabee ran strong among born-again Christians and conservatives, while McCain did best among moderates and those ranking "the right experience" and ability to win in the general election as most important.

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is a former Southern Baptist preacher.

A majority of voters in the Democratic primary were white and women, and Clinton ran strongly in both demographics, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.

The New York senator's victory over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama followed Tennessee wins by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who twice carried the Volunteer State with favorite son Al Gore as his running mate. Clinton was also Arkansas' first lady for 12 years.

"I thought the Clinton days were great, and I want them back," said Daniel Casey, a 51-year-old salesman in Nashville who voted for Clinton.

Obama wasn't able to duplicate his success in neighboring states like Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina because Tennessee has a smaller black population and because "even Democrats in this state are fairly conservative," said Anthony Nownes, a University of Tennessee political science professor.

The state's Republican vote was once expected to go to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, but he dropped out of the race two weeks before Super Tuesday.