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February 12, 2008
They are voting today in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. in both Democratic and Republican primaries.
As the closing arguments were made to voters in Virginia, Maryland and the District, election officials were predicting a heavy turnout for the first-ever "Potomac Primary," and a great deal was at stake for the two Democratic candidates. Late polls show McCain and Obama ahead in all three contests with Mike Huckabee closing fast in Virginia.
Obama was angling to sweep the three jurisdictions. For Clinton, a stronger-than-expected showing could blunt Obama's momentum in what has turned into a protracted competition for convention delegates: 171 are in play today, with contests in larger states such as Ohio and Texas looming.
Republicans will be on the ballot in the three jurisdictions as well today, but the contest between Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has been more subdued, given McCain's seemingly insurmountable lead in delegates after Super Tuesday.
Still, today's contests, particularly in Virginia, could provide a measure of conservative discontent with the presumptive GOP nominee. On the Republican side, 119 delegates are up for grabs.
If, as expected, Obama wins all three contests with more than 50% of the vote, watch tomorrow for the first pleas from Democrats to Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race. She won't do it - there's no need at the moment. But those calls for her to exit will only increase as Obama piles up win after impressive win.