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AL: Tight Races on Both Sides of the Aisle

By Darryl Fears
Hillary Clinton has a flimsy lead going into Alabama's Democratic primary, so she sent her husband Bill Clinton to Huntsville on Saturday hold the line against Barack Obama.

Mike Huckabee was there too, campaigning down to the wire to gain ground on Sen. John McCain in one of the few states where his poll numbers are in shouting distance of the front-runner. Romney, trailing badly in many state polls, canceled a Saturday visit, a state Republican party official said.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman said she believes the first Super Tuesday ever in her state will be a nail biter for both Republicans and Democrats. "Alabamans will probably go to bed not knowing who they've chosen," Chapman said.

Chapman somewhat boldly predicted an eligible voter turnout of 31 percent to 33 percent, much higher than four years ago, when the state held its primary in June. "People in the state are very energized and enthused that candidates have come to their state more than once," she said.

With a small number of voters, Alabama is not a delegate rich state. Sixty delegates are available to Democrats and 48 to Republicans. That's why in past years, said Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, "We had no visits."

McCain looks like a sure thing in some polls, leading his closest opponent, Huckabee, by at least eight percentage points in the Ramussen and Survey USA polls. Then again, he's in a near dead heat with Huckabee, 37 percent to 35 percent, in the Insider Advantage poll.

Bill Clinton drew thousands of people to a town hall meeting that turned into a political rally Saturday, Spearman said. Two weeks ago, Obama drew an equally large crowds.

Both Hillary Clinton and Obama visited the state in March last year to attend the annual commemoration the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, a 1965 civil rights event that turned bloody when police attacked unarmed activists.

At a church event in March, Obama invoked the tones of a preacher during a speech about the event. Nearby, at another church, Clinton did not speak.

Clinton leads Obama by about five percentage points in a recent Ramussen Reports poll and an Insider Advantage poll, but her margin keeps shrinking. A Survey USA poll has them dead even at 47 percent.

"I think both the Republican and Democratic primaries will be extremely close," Chapman said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 4, 2008; 9:13 PM ET
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