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High Turnout Expected in D.C.-Area Primaries


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

D: 83 delegates to the Democratic convention and 60 delegates to the Republican convention.

NPR's Audie Cornish is in Richmond, where people have been lining up at polling stations in 6 am. Hello, Audie?


NORRIS: We've been seeing record turnouts in events around the country this past month, Audie. What are the crowds like there in Virginia?

CORNISH: Well, Virginia is certainly having a very solid turnout. Up in the northern part, in Fairfax County, the election sheets there reported waits about to 45 minutes.

Overall, state elections officials had been hoping that turnout would reach well over 30 percent. This is a state where, you know, last week, thousands of people were calling on Super Tuesday, trying to get to the polls, not understanding that their turn was not up yet. So there's been high anticipation.

And of the people who are turning out to the polls, there have been reports that a great many of those, perhaps the majority of them are asking for a Democratic ballot.

In Virginia, you can choose to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary. And right now, there were a lot of people asking for Democrat ballots.

NORRIS: Is there a predominant mood among the voters in Richmond?

CORNISH: Well, judging from the polling stations I was at, if you talk to Democrats, there was a feeling maybe best described as a sort of giddy indecision, that they were pleased with both of their options, but that no matter how far along we are in this primary season, they are still very much sort of undecided. And I had more than one person say to me that they had not made up their mind until they were in the booth.

With the Republicans I spoke to, there was much more of a sense of resignation, and I think that with that race moving along the way it has, there is much less of, I guess, excitement on that side of things for Virginia voters.

NORRIS: So you had a chance to talk to voters about the candidates. What about some of the issues? What were most important to voters?

CORNISH: I had several voters talking to me about the economy and specifically the mortgage crisis. Also, there were a number of people who brought up the war in Iraq and national security. These are two issues that I've seen in states over and over again. And they haven't gone away here in Virginia.

And it seems as though they played a primary role in the decision making of the folks that I talked to.

NORRIS: Now, through all these early contests, we've heard a lot about the differences between caucuses and primaries. You've actually seen both in action. Is there a difference in the kind of people who show up for this kind of event, for a primary as opposed to a caucus?

CORNISH: Well, the fact is with a primary, you can vote on your lunch hour, you can vote any time. You can get away between, say, in Virginia's case, 6 and 7. And it's something that is really between you and whatever you were thinking at that moment. Whereas with the caucus, you're really dealing with folks who have the time, energy, wherewithal, babysitters, ability to get out to their specific location and then stay there for upwards of two hours to have a conversation with people they essentially don't know about what candidate they like and what candidate they believe should be elected. And there's also a little bit of wheeling and dealing aspect of it.

It's not just about organization, but about energy and about enthusiasm.

NORRIS: Thank you, Audie.

CORNISH: Thank you.

NORRIS: That was NPR's Audie Cornish, reporting from Richmond, Virginia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.