Tight Democratic Race, McCain Bid Spur Record Turnout

(By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The record turnout in yesterday's primary was almost enough to send town clerks in New Hampshire to the photocopiers, with special dispensation to run off copies of ballots if the pre-printed reserves ran too low.

Secretary of State William M. Gardner correctly predicted that the vote would draw a record 500,000 residents -- 100,000 more than the previous high -- as a close Democratic race and a rejuvenated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) energized voters in the state in the days after Iowa's caucuses.

The large turnout easily topped the 2004 numbers, when, with an incumbent Republican running, 69,414 voted in the GOP contest and a record 221,309 cast ballots in the Democratic primary.

In 2000, 239,523 New Hampshire residents voted in the Republican contest, propelling McCain to his first Granite State victory. In the contested Democratic races, 156,862 people voted.

In 1996, with an incumbent Democrat in the White House, 210,211 voted in the Republican contest and 93,044 in the Democratic one.

And in 1992, 177,970 people voted in the GOP primary, and 170,333 cast their ballots in the Democratic contest, leading Bill Clinton to his second-place "comeback kid" finish behind then-Sen. Paul Tsongas (Mass.).

-- Alice R. Crites and John Solomon

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