Rhode Island Primary: Latest News, Polls On Democratic Race

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Read HuffPost's OffTheBus Superdelegate Investigation to find out more about the superdelegates who are likely to decide the Democratic nomination for president.

The AP reports on Clinton's win in Rhode Island:

Sen. Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic primary in Rhode Island, fighting off a late surge from rival Sen. Barack Obama. Sen. John McCain won the Republican primary handily, helping him secure the nomination.

Clinton had long been favored to win in Rhode Island, a state where she is well liked and has visited often. Most of the state's political establishment lined up behind her, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Jim Langevin.

The state also has a large number of elderly and blue-collar voters, and is the most Catholic state in the nation. Those groups have supported Clinton in many other states. Obama visited here Saturday and had support from Rep. Patrick Kennedy and former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

The AP reports:

Clinton picked up at least five delegates in Rhode Island, where she ended Obama's win streak. Obama won at least eight delegates in Vermont.

Both NBC and Fox News have declared Sen. Hillary Clinton the winner in Rhode Island.

Early Exit Polls

Early exit poll data from the AP:

--A third of voters in the Rhode Island Democratic primary were independents.
--Roughly six in ten of all Democratic voters said superdelegates should vote based on the results of primaries and caucuses rather than personal opinions of the candidates.
--More than half of Rhode Island Democrats picked the economy as the top issue out of three choices.

Read more here.

Choosing A Candidate

Rhode Island voters head to the polls today, eager to participate in their state's presidential primary which, for a change, will have significant sway in the national race. While Clinton maintains a lead in the polls, voters nonetheless have strong opinions about both candidates:

Sharon Carpentier, 46, said it had been a while since she voted in a primary, but on Tuesday she cast her vote for Clinton at a polling place in the Federal Hill section of Providence.

"Rhode Island is such a small state and it really feels like something is going to happen today," said Carpentier, a medical office worker.

Carpentier supports Clinton because she wants to see a female president in her lifetime and because she admires her perseverance through the public airing of her personal problems...

...Brian Chapman, a 34-year-old bicycle frame builder, voted for Obama, whom he compared to John F. Kennedy.

"He's evoking the feeling for me of positivity, he's making me actually proud to be an American and proud to be living in this country instead of being ashamed as I am right now under the current political leadership," Chapman said.


Real Clear Politics has Clinton maintaining a 10-point lead over Obama (48% to 38%) in Rhode Island as voters go to the polls.

Rhode Island Defies Its Size

2008 is turning out to be a big year for the small state of Rhode Island:

For the first time anyone can remember, this small state is relishing its role in the presidential primary cycle.

The state, with only 665,000 eligible voters, has seen astonishing surges in both voter registration and grass-roots political activity.

And while a scant 32 delegates to the Democratic National Convention are at stake, compared with a combined 389 in Ohio and Texas, which will also vote on Tuesday, the candidates are lavishing attention on Little Rhody...

...No presidential candidate stumped here before the 2004 primary, and the state's turnout that year -- barely 6 percent of registered voters -- was among the worst in the nation.



As Rhode Island gears up for a crucial primary vote, state official are estimating that there will be record voter turnout:

Rhode Islanders are gearing up for what could be a record-breaking presidential primary. The Secretary of State's office is estimating twice as many people to hit the polls this year than the 2000 primaries...

...Rhode Islanders will have until 9 PM to cast their ballots in Tuesday's primary. The state is one of three that keeps polling places open that late, most close earlier to collect and tally votes.


Blue-Collar Voters

While Clinton has been leading consistently in the polls in Rhode Island, there are signs that her support among blue-collar voters, a large constituency in Rhode Island, may be wavering:

Pawtucket, R.I., arguably should be Clinton country.

As in much of Rhode Island, Pawtucket's residents are primarily blue-collar, union workers: mechanics, waitresses and teachers, who live in triple-decker homes or tidy bungalows that sit just a few feet apart.

But a recent local Brown University poll shows that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is making inroads in the state, the same week that he is also leading in nationwide polls for the first time. This is despite the fact that Obama has not actually visited Rhode Island, one of four states that will hold primaries on March 4. His campaign announced that he plans to stop in the state on Saturday.

Six weeks ago, Clinton had a 16-point lead over Obama in Rhode Island. Now, that margin has dwindled to just 8 points.


Clinton, Obama Mock Each Other

Obama and Clinton spoke at the same college gymnasium in Rhode Island only days apart from each other. Clinton first mocked Obama's message of hope, but Obama turned around and mocked her right back:

Last Sunday, Clinton addressed several thousand people, where she spoke sarcastically about Obama's themes of hope and bipartisanship, saying she knew better than to think that "The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect."

Today, addressing a crowd of more than 5,000 -- not including about 5,000 more who were turned away for lack of space, Obama referred to those remarks.

"She was here, right? And she was saying, 'Oh, you know, he thinks that the clouds will part, and he's so naïve, and he thinks he can wave a magic wand,' " he said, as the crowd laughed.



The latest Rasmussen Poll in Rhode Island has Clinton leading Obama, 53% to 38%:

While most of the attention in the Democratic Presidential Primary is focused on Ohio and Texas these days, Rhode Island and Vermont will also be voting on March 4. Rhode Island offers a rare bit of good news for the campaign of New York Senator Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady leads Illinois Senator Barack Obama by fifteen percentage points, 53% to 38%.

Clinton leads by twenty-five points among women and by three points among men.

Read here for more polls in Rhode Island.


Rhode Island Primary Facts And Figures

U.S. News $ World Report has a good primer Rhode Island's primaries, including past winners, 2008 voter registration data, exit poll data from the 2004 election, and more. They also have "3 things you didn't know about the Rhode Island primaries." Here's one of them:

To determine the order in which candidates will appear on this year's presidential primary ballots, Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis used a machine borrowed from the Rhode Island Lottery. Much like the daily lottery numbers are chosen, each candidate was assigned a ball, and the order in which these floated to the top decided their place on the ballot. This year's Democratic ballot will read (in this order): Uncommitted, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama.