Obama wins race, but county goes for McCain

Friday, November 7, 2008

Marshall County voters cast their ballots like most other Tennesseans, favoring John McCain over Barack Obama, yet exit interviews with voters here indicated many anticipated the national results.

Still, McCain's dominance here was less than his statewide percentages, according to unofficial results that face certification 10 days from today. Here it was McCain by just under 60 percent, while the senator from Arizona received about 61 percent of the votes in Tennessee.

McCain won all but one precinct in Marshall County. Voters casting ballots at the Hardison Annex on College Street bucked the county and state trend by favoring Obama over McCain by 56.6 percent to 41.6 percent.

Voters at Chapel Hill's Fire Hall supported McCain by the widest margin in Marshall County: Nearly 65.7 percent for McCain and almost 32.4 percent for Obama. Six Independent candidates made up the difference with Ralph Nader besting the other five.

Voter turnout was up in Marshall County by 4.7 percent over turnout for the previous election for president in 2004, although voter turnout more than doubled (up 122 percent) from the February primary when 5,083 people voted in the county. Uncertified results indicate the total number of people voting in Tuesday's presidential election was 11,288.

Voter registration increased by more than 1,000 from 16,833 for the February primary to 17,821 for Tuesday's general election. The increase in registration was only 523 from November 2004 to February 2008.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander was re-elected with about 68 percent of the statewide vote over former state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke. Here, the state's senior senator received 64.6 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon was re-elected without a Republican opponent and Marshall County favored the Murfreesboro Democrat over Independent Chris Baker.

And, state Rep. Eddie Bass was re-elected without opposition.

Charts comparing such statistics accompany this story and show uncertified results for each of the nine precincts.

With significant participation at Chapel Hill, voters were asked to share their thoughts on the election at polls in the state park recreation building and the town's fire hall.

"I voted Republican, mostly," said Patsy Haley who made an exception for Gordon. She saw the presidential race as "neck and neck," but added, "Polls say Obama has the lead, but most of the reporters are Democrats."

Celia Anderson declined to say who she voted for, but said she thought Obama would win. "I think everybody is ready for a change, mostly because of the economy; Things have gone down hill fast, although I think both would be good as president."

McCain voter Mark Pedigo explained; "My parents own a small business. There's talk about tax breaks. I don't want to see my taxes go to spread the wealth around or to those who don't want to work."

Tommy Gentry said he voted for Obama because he's "had enough of Bush. I'm a Democrat and I'm ready for a change."

He and his wife felt Obama would win.

Leslee Leach wanted McCain to win and she declined to say why, but she added, "I really like Sarah Palin."

But who did she think would win? "Obama," because of the economy, the war and McCain was seen as similar to Bush.

April Jones said, "I am a Democrat, but I didn't vote that way this time" in the presidential race, "but I voted for all the other Democrats...

"I wasn't going to vote and I prayed the whole time and my soul wasn't right with it," she said. "Race has nothing to do with it at all," she said without prompting.

She also knew that Tuke was a long shot Democratic challenger to Alexander, but she voted for him, she said.

David Twogood said he voted for McCain because of his "more traditional values."

Twogood's wife, Peggy, saw integrity as what she liked in McCain while "Obama's associations are a little scary. We don't know what his intent is."

Election poll officers reported no problems and mostly short lines, although with about 90 minutes before the poll closed in downtown Chapel Hill, there was a line and minor traffic jam.

"We've been extremely busy with probably our highest voter turn out I've seen," said Thom Wilson, the officer in charge at the Chapel Hill Fire Hall.

It was his third presidential election.

"The line this morning was long," Wilson said, estimating nearly 25 people were waiting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Three times that many were waiting to vote at 7 a.m. at the poll in Henry Horton State Park, according to Eugene Pacetti.

"This is probably our heaviest turnout in years," Pacetti said.

He said publicity and voters' desire to voice their opinion were why.

At least a dozen were waiting at 7 a.m. to vote at the poll in the Lewisburg Gas Department offices.

However, all of them had identification cards or voter registration cards and they seemed to be well informed, said Paula Thomas, one of the election workers at the utility office.

"We only have 17,000 registered voters and 6,000 of them voted early, so it's not like there's a potential for lines," she said. "People took their civic duty seriously. Some tried to come at times when it wasn't crowded."

Her husband, the Rev. Steve Thomas, was also an election official at the utility office and his observation confirmed the time-worn truth about presidential elections: People come out for that race more than others.

He said, "We've had a lot of questions like, 'Do I have to vote in these other races?'"