Sen. John McCain supporters celebrated their favorite candidate's victory in the California presidential primary Tuesday night, vowing to continue their campaign momentum right up to Election Day on Nov. 4.
At the same time Republicans were toasting the McCain victory, Democrats were rallying at the I.B.E.W. union hall in Dublin, with many wearing badges supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton while others showed their support for Sen. Barack Obama.
By the time both victory parties got under way, Clinton and McCain were ahead in many of the 22 states that held early primaries on what was called Super Tuesday. In California, both candidates took early leads shortly after the polls closed and vote counting started, and they held and increased those leads through the night.
On the Republican ticket, Sen. John McCain was an early winner, ending with a total of 975,363 votes statewide, or 42 percent of the total votes, with 98.5 percent of California precincts reported. In that count, Gov. Mitt Romney had 790,515 votes, or 34.1 percent; Gov. Mike Huckabee had 268,622, or 11.6 percent, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who earlier dropped out of the race, nevertheless earned 115,436 votes, or 5 percent.
As of the same reporting time, and also with 98.5 percent of all state precincts now reporting, Clinton received 2,107,758 votes, or 52 percent of all votes cast in the Democratic Party primary. Sen. Barack Obama won 1,717,681 votes, or 42.4 percent, with Sen. John Edwards, who also had dropped out of the race earlier, still receiving 168,866 votes, or 4.2 percent.
Votes reported later than usual
Results in California came in far later than usual this year because many counties used paper ballots, which had to be fed manually into scanners. Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the vast majority of electronic voting machines in the state last year, arguing that they were vulnerable to tampering and had defects that could mar vote counts.
In Alameda County, with 100 percent of the county's 1,204 precincts reported, Obama topped Clinton with 115,525 votes, or 50.6 percent, to her 102,039 votes, or 44.7 percent.
In the Republican primary, McCain led the ticket in Alameda County with 24,956 votes, or 48.4 percent, followed by Romney with 14,314 votes, or 27.8 percent. Huckabee trailed with 5,094 votes, or 9.9 percent.
Pleasanton's Jill Buck heads McCain communications
In Pleasanton, Jill Buck, head of McCain's California Leadership Team and its Northern California communications director, headed to San Diego Tuesday to confer with statewide McCain for President leaders about ongoing campaign plans.
Buck, best known as the author of the national "Going Green" initiative, knows a lot about politics. She ran a strong campaign herself as the Republican candidate for an open state Assembly seat in the largely Democrat-dominated 18th District, where she lives, but lost to Mary Hayashi, a Democrat from Castro Valley.
While campaigning for McCain in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley, Buck talked about the Arizona senator's qualifications.
"He shares the perspective of most Californians that states should be allowed to set their own standards for measures to 'green' our environment, and that the federal government should not be able to drill for oil off our coastline if the people of California are opposed to it," she said. "In fact, Sen. McCain is the only presidential candidate on either side of the aisle who has authored legislation to set aggressive standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Others comment on McCain victory
Steve Savas, Alameda County chairman of the McCain campaign, agreed. Joining the crowds at the Hop Yard to celebrate McCain's California primary victory, Savas proudly showed his personal McCain badge that the Senator gave him during the recent New Hampshire campaign.
"I think McCain is someone who really offers the promise of a change, not only in how campaigns are run but in how he will serve Americans as their president," Savas said. "He tells it like it is, squaring with the public over the challenges we face as a country and how he will work to fix them."
"He knows that we have to make tough decisions and take difficult steps to fight global terrorism, to fix Medicare and medical costs that are rising at 10 percent a year and all of the other serious problems he believes we can handle by working together," Savas added.
Also at the Hop Yard rally was Brad Richards of Pleasant Hill, who has been chosen as a McCain delegate to represent his California district at the Republic convention in Minneapolis this summer.
"We had a lot of wins in Super Tuesday and our campaign will roll out after the convention with a lot of momentum here in California," he said.
Joining the group was Matthew McGovern Coyne, who came over to Pleasanton from Santa Rosa.
"I'm supporting McCain because I feel he is the most authentic candidate in the race," Coyne said. "I want someone in the oval office I can really trust and he's the one. He will be an exceptional president from day one."
Record high number register to vote
With 700,000 more Californians registered to vote than there were two years ago, including a record-high total of nearly 37,804 registered voters in Pleasanton, voters lined up early at polling places across the city Tuesday to cast ballots in one of the liveliest presidential primaries ever.
Besides handling the record turnout of voters, precinct workers also were swamped with requests for provisional ballots from voters registered as "Decline to State." By voting provisional, those voters were able to vote in either the American Independent or Democratic parties' presidential primaries upon request. Most, precinct workers said, chose the Democratic Party primary ballot. The other four political parties, including the Republican Party, had "closed" primaries that did now allow decline-to-state voters to participate.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen said that more than 2 million absentee ballots had been sent before Tuesday's primary. Many more voters carrying absentee ballots that they had held back from mailing were seen at local polling places submitting those, which was allowed.
Democrats, GOP pick up new voters
According to Bowen, the two largest political parties have seen their registration percentages fall over the last four years as more voters declined to state a political affiliation. However, both parties have picked up new members recently: There are 150,633 newly registered Democrats and 39,246 newly registered Republicans since early December.
Statewide, registration totals for the six qualified political parties and voters who have declined to state their political affiliation totaled 15,091,160 going into Tuesday's Presidential Primary.
By political party, the number of registered voters and their percentage of the total number registered for the Presidential Primary were:
• Democratic: 6,518,631 of 43.2 percent of all registered voters.
• Republican: 5,364,832, 35.55 percent.
• American Independent: 291,055, 1.93 percent.
• Green: 157,749, 1.05 percent.
• Libertarian: 86,053, 0.57 percent.
• Peace and Freedom: 70,475, 0.47 percent.
• Decline to State: 2,480,039, 16.43 percent.
• Miscellaneous: 122,326, 0.80 percent.
"The percentage of people who are eligible to vote and actually registered to vote has dipped from about 69 percent to just below 68.5 percent," Bowen said. "The drop is partly due to better tracking and removal of so-called "deadwood" from the voter registration rolls."