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AZ: Early Ballots Could Have Impact

By Ann Scott Tyson
Polls are open in Arizona, where the weather in Phoenix is fair and home state candidate Republican Sen. John McCain is widely predicted to win. But Democratic contenders Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) are in an increasingly competitive race, with Clinton holding onto a shrinking lead.

Counting has begun of the more than 100,000 ballots already cast under the state's early voting program, which could have an impact on initial results tonight.

Among those early votes, nearly half were cast by women over the age of 50, a demographic more likely to favor Clinton, according to David Waid, the former state Democratic Party chairman. In contrast, just 7 percent were cast by people under 35, considered more likely to chose Obama, he said.

The upshot, Waid predicts, is that after polls close tonight "the first number you will see is Clinton winning, but as the night moves on, that will winnow down and the race will become tighter and tighter." Obama's
performance, in turn, will depend greatly on whether he can generate an unusually big turnout.

By Washington Post Editor  |  February 5, 2008; 11:21 AM ET
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