The Arkansas angle | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Arkansas angle

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2008 at 7:42 AM

It looks like final numbers in Arkansas will give Hillary Clinton 69 percent of what will be more than 275,000 Democratic votes and Mike Huckabee 60 percent of what will be more than 200,000 Republican votes. So a candidate 15 years gone to Washington and New York did better than a governor only a year gone from office and still a resident. In a close presidential race, this might make Arkansas more significant than it was last night.

But the stunner was the Republican turnout. It was a record vote in a primary, by light years. Whatever difference in enthusiasm might have been evident in other states doesn't seem to have been in evidence here. Compare Tuesday's vote total with recent Republican primary totals supplied by a party official:

1992 GOP Primary Votes = 54,876

1994 GOP Primary Votes = 43,753

1996 GOP Primary Votes = 42,814

1998 GOP Primary Votes = 57,208

2000 GOP Primary Votes = 44,573

2002 GOP Primary Votes = 92,122

2004 GOP Primary Votes = 54,041

2006 GOP Primary Votes = 62,868

I was told, too, that a record number of Republicans had filed to be delegates to the national convention. Interesting side note on that: My source said the majority of those filing wanted to be delegates for John McCain. Though voters favored Huckabee, party regulars remain a little cooler to the former governor, who's widely viewed as having done far more for Mike Huckabee than he did for the party during his 10 years in office.

Side note: John McCain only got 48 percent of the vote in Arizona. CORRECTION: I just got the final figures on delegate signups. The numbers: Huckabee, 68, McCain, 66, Paul, 61; Romney, 22, and uncommitted, 2.

UPDATE: Several readers note, as I should have, that the early presidential primary freed many voters who normally cast Democratic primary ballots because of the typically richer choices of local races to vote for a Republican presidential candidate, as Arkansas Democratic primary voters often do. As I responded to one of those readers, does that mean, then, that the primary votes give some clue to the state's preferences in November?



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