-6 C. Freeezing. Someone had dropped an ice drink by my car earlier today (why on earth were they drinking ice in this weather?) It is still there this evening. It rained this afternoon- rain drops have actually frozen all over my car. The ground is just one sheet of black ice. And yet the turnout in the primary vote is extremely high. Hardy these Virginians.
I interviewed a couple of dozen voters and a handful of party activists at the 'polling place.' I picked Yorktown High School as it is in an exclusively white neighbourhood. The voters are almost all public servants in some way and almost all Democrats. In fact, 73% of them normally vote Democrat.
The result is out in thirty minutes so I may end up with egg on my face here. But it is looking very good for Obama. Of the twenty or so who declared their vote to me (pretty much evenly split between men and women), only four were voting for Hillary. Three of those were white, middle-aged women- her absolute core. People are voting for Obama for a number of reasons: electability is a major one, a fresh start is another but he's starting to break through on one or two issues also. Two professional economists I spoke to thought his economic plan was perfectly respectable.
As I write the first snippets from exit polls have started to filter through. They show that Hillary's vote is split 77-11 white to black, whereas Obama's is split 56-44 white to black in Virginia. What I was picking up in the comfortable, white neighbourhood of Garden City is underlined by those figures.
7.07pm update: CNN's exit data shows that Obama has split the white vote almost 50-50 with Clinton and he WON the vote amongst women. Clinton is in real trouble and has three weeks to save her campaign.
8.23pm update: Sorry for a second update but it really is worth looking at the exit polls. Obama is going to win about 60-40. But if you scan the underlying figures there is remarkable consistency all the way down. The conclusion has to be that in this primary at least he is starting to break boundaries and reach into Clinton's core, building a universal appeal in the process. It's just one primary but interesting nonetheless.