Alabama: Huckabee, Obama win

February 5, 2008 9:47:11 PM PST
Mike Huckabee turned out evangelical voters and Barack Obama captured black and young voters as both won Alabama's presidential primaries Tuesday.Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, defeated Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran third. Huckabee, with strong appeal to fellow Southern Baptists, earlier won his home state and Georgia.

"It's hard for this old Razorback to say 'Roll Tide Roll,' but I'm saying it tonight," Huckabee said.

Obama, the Illinois senator, defeated New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who did not visit Alabama during the closing days of the primary.

With more than 90 percent of Alabama's precincts reporting, Huckabee had 41 percent, McCain 38 percent, Romney 18 percent and Ron Paul 3 percent. If those numbers hold, no candidate will cross the 50 percent threshold needed to win all of Alabama's GOP delegates and they will be divided on a formula.

Paul Reynolds, co-chairman of Huckabee's Alabama campaign, said Huckabee made two trips to Alabama in the closing stretch - more than any other candidate - and that helped show Alabama Republicans that they had much in common with the former governor of Arkansas.

On the Democratic side, Obama had 56 percent, Clinton 42 percent, and former Sen. John Edwards got 2 percent even though he had dropped out. Under the Democratic Party's rules, Obama and Clinton will split the Democratic delegates proportionately.

About half of the Democratic voters were black, and Obama won 80 percent of their votes. Exit polling also showed he captured 60 percent of the votes from people under 30, who made up more than one in 10 voters.

More than 58,000 new voters signed up in the three months leading up to Super Tuesday, prompting election officials to prepare for a better-than-average turnout. Temperatures across the state were spring-like in the 70s and low 80s.

Tobias Wilson, a 20-year-old football player at predominantly black Miles College in Birmingham, cast his first presidential vote for Obama. "He gives a lot of African-Americans hope," said Wilson.

Nina Patel, a 39-year-old housewife from Montgomery, went for Clinton. "I think America should be ready for a woman leader," said Patel, who's of Indian ancestry.

On the Republican side, many voters who chose Huckabee said they were influenced by his background as a Baptist minister and because they viewed him as the most conservative candidate.

"My main issue was where they stand on the Lord and conservative versus liberal. I'm conservative," said Jeff McFarland, a 42-year-old Southern Baptist from Montgomery.