Vineyard voters swoon for Barack Obama
The hospitality Islanders have always extended to Hillary Clinton during her family's several Vineyard visits did not extend to the voting booth Tuesday. Senator Barack Obama trounced Senator Clinton by an Island-wide vote of 2,877 to 1,968. In Massachusetts as a whole, Senator Clinton beat Senator Obama by 15 percentage points.
Mr. Obama took all six of the Island towns, beating Mrs. Clinton by a two-to-one margin in Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury.
On the Republican ballot, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney beat Senator John McCain, 613-552. The largest Republican turnout was in Edgartown, where Mr. Romney won by a vote of 193-157.
The primary turnout was huge, with approximately half of the Island electorate of 12,067 registered voters going to the polls on a rainy but unusually warm February day.
Normally, the vote on an Island well known for its heavily Democratic leanings would not provide a great deal of fodder for the legion of political pundits clogging the nations airwaves.
But this year's political battle is anything but normal. The fact that Mr. Obama beat Mrs. Clinton so soundly on her home vacation turf where she has many friends and supporters may not augur well for her political fortunes.
Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have been visiting the Island for 14 years. The Clinton family vacationed on the Vineyard during Mr. Clinton's two terms in office, and at one point it was reported that they considered buying a house here.
The Clintons' personal connections to the Vineyard did little to stem the tide of support that flowed to Mr. Obama, a relative political newcomer to the national stage who rose to prominence with a speech at the 2004 Democratic national convention.
Voters in Aquinnah, the Island's smallest town, handed Mr. Obama his largest margin, by percent, of victory. The Illinois senator beat his New York rival by a vote of 126-51. Statistically, Mr. Romney's victory over Mr. McCain was of a similar margin but several orders of magnitude different. The vote was 4-2. The only other Republican vote cast went to Mike Huckabee. The newest parlor game among the few winter residents of Aquinnah may be trying to guess the identity of the town's seven Republican voters.
West Tisbury also handed Mr. Obama a wide margin of victory over Mrs. Clinton, 659-320, or 66 percent to 32 percent of all votes cast in the Democratic primary.
The breakdowns are not surprising. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans on the Island, 4,234 (74 percent) voters to 1,470 (26 percent). However, more than half of the Island's 12,067 registered voters, 6,276, are unenrolled.
Vineyarders are not above political maneuvering. One Oak Bluffs voter who asked not to be identified said he normally votes along conservative lines but decided to switch parties and cast a vote for Mr. Obama. It was, he said, a calculated effort to harm the political fortunes of Mrs. Clinton.