High turnouts in Neb., low in La. for Dems

The Nebraska Democratic Party is reporting “incredibly high turnouts” in its presidential caucuses Saturday, while the Louisiana Democratic Party predicted low turnout for its primary Saturday afternoon.

Nebraska Democratic Party Communications Director Eric Fought said that several caucus sites around Omaha had overflowed with participants, and caucus-goers had to caucus outside. He predicted that Nebraska’s highest turnouts were in Omaha and surrounding Douglas County.

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Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who is expected to do well in Nebraska, is the only candidate to have campaigned in Omaha since Wednesday. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has spent most of her time in Washington, which also holds a nominating contest Saturday, in the last several days, holding four rallies there Thursday and Friday.

Obama has outperformed the former first lady in caucuses in the Democratic presidential race so far. Though Clinton won Nevada’s caucus, Obama has won the other seven caucus states.

Preliminary estimates of caucus results will be released by the Nebraska Democratic Party at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

Louisiana Democratic Party Communications Director Julie Vezinot gave an early estimate of 15 percent turnout, which is low by Louisiana primary standards. However, high turnout in one key parish could help Obama.

Vezinot estimated a 40 percent turnout in Ouachita Parish, where immensely popular African American Mayor Jamie Mayo will face off against primary opponents. The parish is heavily African American.

Obama has outperformed Clinton among African Americans and the extra turnout could help him.

Vezinot also expected high turnout in the east Baton Rouge area, where a hotly contested casino issue has helped drive an estimated 40 percent turnout as well.

Obama spoke to a crowd in New Orleans Wednesday, while former President Bill Clinton swung through the state Friday to campaign for his wife, attending five events that day.

Obama and Clinton (D-N.Y.) will seek a total of 204 delegates Saturday from the caucuses in Nebraska, Washington, and the Virgin Islands and the Louisiana primary.

The Nebraska and Louisiana contests will award a total of 61 pledged delegates, 24 from Nebraska and 37 from Louisiana, with 37 more unpledged delegates to be chosen at a later date.

Louisiana’s polls close at 8 p.m. Central, and the Louisiana State Department’s office estimated results around 10 p.m. Central.