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Clinton rules Queens

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Queens voters cited experience, the war in Iraq, health care, the economy and change as the major issues that affected who they pulled the lever for.While Clinton (D-N.Y.) was expected to easily win her home state going into the primary, support for Obama (D-Ill.) was considerable when TimesLedger reporters canvassed polling places. Of the 31 voters who spoke to reporters, 17 said they voted for Clinton and 11 for Obama. Three voters cast ballots in the Republican primary: two for frontrunner U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and one for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).New York is one of 24 states participating in the Feb. 5 presidential primary, known as Super Tuesday because of the large number of delegates at stake. Instead of directly voting for the candidate, voters select delegates to a national convention that meets to select a nominee for president. More than half of the Democratic delegates and 41 percent of Republican delegates were at stake on Super Tuesday. Democrats need 2,025 delegates to capture their party's nomination while Republicans need 1,191.Clinton had 241 delegates to 169 for Obama going into Super Tuesday.She won Queens handily, 60 percent to Obama's 38 percent with 99 percent of the precincts reporting Ð a 43,800-vote margin, according to CNN.com. About 195,000 registered Queens Democrats cast ballots.With 95 percent of the precincts reporting in the state, Clinton beat Obama 57 percent to 40 percent.Turnout nationwide was expected to be heavy because the race for the Democratic nomination is tight between Clinton and Obama - an election that would also be historic in that either the first woman or first African-American will be nominated for president. National polls that showed Clinton with a double-digit lead over Obama now show the race narrowing Clinton lead in single digits.Queens voters who chose Clinton said they did so because of her experience and their familiarity with her as their senator."I know Hillary and she knows where I'm from," said Ethel Lee, a 75-year-old voter from Flushing. "She's shown me [in the Senate] that she has what it takes to be the leader of the country. She also paid attention to the people she served as well, like here in Queens. That's important to me."Dr. Suzanne Parr, a 32-year-old from Forest Hills who said health care was her top issue, voted for Clinton."I believe in her health-care policy," Parr said. "She has the experience to make it work."Giana Sepsides, who voted at PS 85 in Astoria, said she chose Clinton because she agreed with her on the issues."Hillary Clinton is the best for the White House in terms of the economy, the war [in Iraq], health care and Social Security," Sepsides said. "She'll bring the troops back É This country has been destroyed by the Bush administration."Queens voters who said they believed the country needs a change cast their ballot for Obama, the nation's first black presidential candidate who has demonstrated an ability to attract broad support across racial lines. That proved true among those who voted for him in the borough as he received support in Sunnyside, Astoria and Bayside along with predominantly black southeast Queens."I have been in favor of him since [his candidacy] began," said Dr. Krishna Thomas, who voted in Laurelton. "He is the new type of candidate. Bush is the old type and he didn't do [anything]. Hillary is old school, too. Obama É represents what we can attain if we work hard."M.J. Geier, an 18-year-old from Sunnyside, cast her vote for the first time and chose Obama."In the end, I think his policies work for me," she said, noting that his ideas about reforming the education system "would do a lot for Queens public schools."Pasquale Amendiola, a Bayside voter, said he cast his ballot for Obama because "I think he's touched a nerve in the American experience."His wife, Kathleen Amendiola, agreed and said Obama is "young and vibrant" while Clinton is "nauseating after a while."Clark Gregor, an Astoria voter, said he voted for Obama because he believed Obama has a better shot at winning the general election than Clinton."But either candidate represents the diversity of our community and that's a good thing," he said.Reporters M. Junaid Alam, Alex Christodoulides, Nathan Duke, Ivan Pereira, Stephen Stirling and Jeremy Walsh contributed to this article. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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