From Madison's The Capitol Times:
Turnout could hit 50 percent
Dane County voters turned out in huge numbers today to help decide who will be the Democratic nominee for president.
With preliminary numbers from the city of Madison at 11 a.m., County Clerk Joe Parisi predicted turnout in Madison could reach 50 percent of eligible voters, with similar results from the rest of the county.
"Compared to other spring primaries, it's huge," he said.
Typical numbers for a spring primary are in the 10 percent to 25 percent range, he added, but this is the first year that Wisconsin's presidential primary has fallen on the same day as the primary for other spring races.
A referendum on a casino at DeJope bingo hall is also driving turnout, as well as school referendums in communities such as Sun Prairie and Waunakee.
Interviews with voters at polling places in Waunakee, Sun Prairie and the north side of Madison seemed to find U.S. Sen. John Kerry capturing most of the votes.
Support for Sen. John Edwards, however, was widespread among a sampling of voters interviewed at polling places on the west side of the city and in Middleton. ...
Several people said they chose Kerry because they thought he had the best chance to beat President Bush in the general election.
"Things need a change and he is the best shot to get rid of Bush," said Michael Berry, 31, of Madison.
Connie Burmeister, 56, of Waunakee, agreed. "He's the best candidate to beat Bush," she said.
Chris Zellner, 34, of Waunakee, said, "Kerry is best for the country right now. I like his views on taxes and the war."
Mary Saunders, 84, of Waunakee, voted for Kerry because she thinks he's the best candidate. "Hopefully he will be all he says he is going to be and do," she said.
Jessica Strand, 41, of Madison, voted for Kerry. "I think he is going to be able to beat George Bush and that's really important," she said.
Kerry was a second choice for Madison residents Theresa Dougherty and her daughter Nicole, though they had different first choices. Theresa, 45, voted for Kerry because retired Gen. Wesley Clark dropped out. Nicole Dougherty, 22, originally supported former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. "I didn't like his temper, and Kerry seemed next best," she said.
Andy Ennis, 47, of Sun Prairie, said he voted for Edwards because "he comes from not such a background of Ivy League schools."
"He has a working class background," Ennis noted.
Bill Spiers, 82, of Sun Prairie, said he voted for Edwards because "I don't care much for John Kerry, and Edwards seems to be more level-headed." Spiers thought Kerry would win the primary, so he regarded his ballot as a protest vote.
Don Olsen, 50, of Waunakee, voted for Dean because "he has a personality like mine. Sometimes he says things and gets in trouble, but he speaks from the heart. He's the most honest politician I've seen in a long time."
Ron Inda, 52, of Madison, said he went with Dean because he had experience as a governor and because "he is a liberal on social issues and a fiscal conservative."
Some voters, bluntly, just wanted to cast a vote calculated to unseat Bush.
"I'm hoping for anybody but Bush" as the next president, Molly Plunkett said at Crestwood School on the city's west side.
It had been hard to sort out meaningful differences among the Democratic candidates, but Plunkett settled on Edwards for his positions and general appeal.
Tom Payton supported Edwards, whose ability to speak succinctly on the issues, using such concepts as "two Americas" to talk about economic division, will serve him well, Payton said. "Most voters make their decisions on sound bites," he said.
Stanlie James, voting at Chavez Elementary School on Madison's southwest side, said she was impressed by Edwards' ethical stands.
"I appreciate his concern for working people, for regular people," James said. She said she expected that Edwards would work hard to make a difference for working families in areas such as jobs and education.
Eliot Williams, voting at Middleton High School, said he cast his ballot for Edwards, although he was not certain he was electable, in frustration with Kerry, "who hasn't done much to distinguish himself except look good on TV."
Ernest Aeschliman said he voted for Kerry "because I figured he's the man, right or wrong," to win the party nod.
Rozan Brown, of Middleton, said she voted for Kerry, in part to show solidarity within the Democratic Party.
"I want to make it look like there is a strong body of support behind one candidate," she said.
Josh Mathy, voting at Middleton High School, said he was an early Dean supporter who went to Edwards after Dean "imploded" and started looking "not very presidential."
One voter who requested anonymity cast his ballot for Dean in an effort to counter the "media-induced collapse of his campaign."
Milissa Turke said she wavered over whom to support before settling on Edwards. "I really appreciate his positive campaign," she said.
Andy Bush, voting at Crestwood School on the city's west side, cast his ballot for Dennis Kucinich in hopes of keeping alive the populist branch of the Democratic Party, he said.
Elaine Naughton said Kerry was better equipped to represent the United States among world leaders "and make us proud."
Turnout was light this morning at the Pyle Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, but veteran election officials speculated that the mostly student voters might come out later in the day.
Sentiment there was leaning toward Kerry in the sampling taken.
"He's the best candidate to compete with George Bush," Ken Rosenberg said.