OK: Thompson Fans Moving to McCain
By Marc Kaufman
Rain continued to fall across much of Oklahoma tonight, with some snow as well in the sparsely populated northwest of the state. Nonetheless, officials stuck to predictions of record turnouts for both contests. Republican Party Chairman Gary Jones said that while the rain "might knock down the numbers a bit, we're still getting lots of people calling with a lot of enthusiasm for their candidate."
Former senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) had polled well in the state before he pulled out, and Jones said many of his supporters seemed to be moving to John McCain. Mitt Romney, however, has made a strong late push in the state -- even making a short visit on Monday -- and tried to persuade voters to vote for him rather than Mike Huckabee, in particular.
State Election Board Secretary Michael Clingman said he expects about 550,000 people to vote -- the highest vote except for the 1996 turnout, which was driven by a controversial state ballot question that proposed freezing property taxes. There are 1,008,590 registered Democrats, 786,933 Republicans and 219,000 independents.
Seven Democrats and 11 Republicans appeared on Oklahoma ballots, even though many have dropped out of the race. Before they left the race, both John Edwards and Thompson had polled well, and observers say the winner in both primaries may be the one who can win over the voters formerly aligned with those two.
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