Obama Wins the Green Mountains
Updated: 8:25 p.m.
By Rachel Dry
Of all the predictions ventured about what would happen as the votes were tallied today, perhaps the easiest call to make was that Barack Obama would triumph in the Green Mountain State.
No more than 15 minutes after the polls closed in Vermont, it was clear the Illinois senator had won.
The big question: Will he get the more than 64 percent of the vote needed for a 10-5 delegate split? Eric Davis, a former political science professor at Middlebury College and a close observer of Vermont politics, said that going into the election, Obama was pretty much assured to win "handily" and that the only question was by how much.
"The Obama campaign in Vermont was better organized and had more volunteer enthusiasm," Davis said.
He noted that Vermont's open primary meant many independents who might have voted for Sen. John McCain -- all but assured of his party's nomination -- walked in today to cast their vote for Obama. Obama also appeared to outspend Sen. Hillary Clinton by roughly two to one, Davis said, judging by radio and television advertising. More than independent enthusiasm and spending though, was the issue of the war in Iraq. "Clinton's vote on the war issue hurts her in Vermont," Davis said.
Antiwar sentiment is strong in the state. At the Brattleboro town meeting today, residents voted 2,012 to 1,795 to approve a measure that calls for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for "crimes against" the Constitution. If Bush or Cheney were to set foot in the town -- a first for Bush, as Vermont is the one state in the country he has not visited during his term -- the Brattleboro police would be directed to arrest and extradite him.
In addition to the pledged delegates he picks up with his win, Obama has five of the six Vermont superdelegates and swept the unofficial race for frozen treat manufacturers: He had the support of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of the beloved Vermont export Ben & Jerry's.
Did the ice cream vote put him (even more) over the edge in the end?
Results are inconclusive.
Caitlin Turndorf, 21, answering the phone just before 7 p.m. at the Ben & Jerry's scoop shop on Church Street in Burlington, Vt., said she hadn't been at work that long. But so far, she hadn't seen any election day regalia or Obama campaign signs, and the patrons gathering seemed more interested in ice cream than in the man the ice cream makers were supporting.
Turndorf herself, a Maine native, skipped the vote, even though she is registered in Vermont. "My sister was visiting today, so with my day off I spent time with her. But if I had voted, I would have voted for Obama," she said.
She then politely excused herself to deal with a line of customers forming to buy ice cream even though it was 30 degrees in Burlington and a winter storm warning was in effect.
"It's Vermont. People don't care how cold it is," she said.
Washington Post editors
March 4, 2008; 7:36 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Primaries , The Democrats
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