THE BLOG

Voters Flood Virginia Polls

03/28/2008 02:48 am 02:48:23 | Updated May 25, 2011

Democratic primary turnout records were blown away as nearly twice as many voters showed up for this year's presidential primary than from 2004, easily surpassing previous highs.

"The turnout I've seen today is comparable to a presidential election," said Amber Woods, a teacher for 17 years at Epes Elementary School, a polling station in Newport News. "I've never seen this many people out here for a primary."

Election officials confirmed Woods' eyewitness analysis, and even had to show up to several precincts with boxes full of extra ballots.

Mary Doxey, a Secretary on the State Electoral Board, was thankful that the Sheriff's department was chauffeuring her around all day and assured voters the extra ballots were legitimate. "These are official," Doxey announced to no one in particular, "just so nobody thinks I'm printing up ballots at home and pulling them out of a trunk of a car."

Exit polls
indicated that Sen. Barack Obama was the preferred candidate by first-time voters by nearly 71%. And, Obama also appeared to gain an increased percentage of support from voters with higher education.

Although Sen. Hillary Clinton bested Obama in much of Virginia's Southwest areas like Bristol, Galax, and other rural areas with less than a few thousand voters; Obama won because of his strength of appeal and the overwhelming turnout in more population dense areas such as Richmond, Northern Virginia, and Hampton Roads.

Despite Clinton's appearance at one of Professor Larry Sabato's famous political science lectures at UVA this week, Obama dominated the results from college towns like Charlottesville. Obama won big in the hometowns of schools such as James Madison University, Hampton University, the College of William & Mary, and even Jerry Falwell's former home-- Liberty University.

In the near future, political analysts will surely be pouring over the wealth of election polling data from Virginia as its diverse geography and demographics offer unique insight into many of the remaining contests. And, Clinton's strength in the southwest part of the state could be a strong indicator of her potential success in states like West Virginia and Kentucky.

Virginia is for lovers -- of political data.