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McCain defeats Huckabee in hard-fought race in Virginia
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13:53, February 13, 2008

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· U.S. Presidential Election 2008
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U.S. Republican presidential hopeful John McCain beat his only challenger Mike Huckabee in the hard-fought Virginia primary Tuesday, according to the vote tally.

With 64 percent of the precincts reporting, McCain led with 48 percent of the vote. Huckabee received 44 percent, according to CNN's vote tally.

According to the Republican winner-takes-all rule, McCain would have all the 63 delegates in Virginia.

McCain emerged as the presumptive Republican nominee after the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries, but he suffered setbacks from Huckabee over the weekend in two races.

With the victory in Virginia, McCain now leads Huckabee 783 to 217 in the number of total delegates going to the Republican Party's national convention in September. McCain needs 1,191 delegates to secure the nomination.

His win in Virginia followed two defeats over the weekend and a neck-and-neck race in the state.

Pollsters said a high turnout by very conservative voters and evangelicals made it a hard-fought race.

Preliminary exit poll results in the Republican race found that a third of voters described themselves as very conservative, nearly double the 18 percent in 2004. They kept Huckabee competitive in the race.

Also boosting Huckabee was the fact that just under half of Virginia voters identified themselves as evangelicals, and he won them by nearly 2-1.

But eventually it was the issues of the economy and Iraq that mattered most among Republican voters.

Exit polls showed McCain had a clear advantage against Huckabee on the two issues.

Source: Xinhua

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