LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain has won Kentucky and collected eight electoral votes in a state that has picked the overall winner in presidential races dating back to 1964.
The call was based on an analysis of voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
With 38 percent of precincts reporting, McCain had 386,210 votes or 54.93 percent, compared with 307,849 votes or 43.79 percent for Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.
Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, the state has trended Republican in recent years, supporting President Bush in the past two elections.
Neither McCain nor Obama had campaigned in Kentucky recently. They instead spent their time in battleground states that had more electoral votes at stake and where the race was closer.
Voters in Kentucky turned out at the polls at what could be a record pace to make their selections between McCain and Obama.
Meanwhile Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell remained locked in a tighter race with Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford - one that turned into the most expensive ever in Kentucky at $25 million and counting.
McConnell, the Senate minority leader, had raised $17.9 million for his re-election campaign by the end of September. Lunsford, a Louisville millionaire, personally put up $5.5 million of the $7.1 million in contributions he listed on campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission.
McConnell reminded voters in stump speeches and political ads of his rank as the Senate's top Republican, telling voters that translates into clout for Kentucky in Washington. He said it would be unwise to trade him in for a rookie Democrat.
Lunsford's political strategy has been to link McConnell to President Bush, and to lay blame for the nation's economic woes at his feet.
Five incumbent U.S. representatives were re-elected in Kentucky. That includes Democrats John Yarmuth of Louisville and Ben Chandler of Lexington and Republicans Hal Rogers of Somerset, Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville and Geoff Davis of Hebron.
Still to be decided is the race between Democrat David Boswell and Republican Brett Guthrie in western Kentucky's 2nd congressional district. They are vying for the seat left open by Ron Lewis, who is retiring.
Votes also were being counted in 40 contested state legislative races.
Grayson said he expected 65 to 70 percent of Kentucky's 2.9 million registered voters to cast ballots. That kind of turnout would shatter the record set in 2004.
Lines were so long when Kathleen Blanton arrived at her polling station in a Louisville suburb at 6:30 a.m. EST that she gave up and went home to wait for the morning rush to pass. Blanton, a Democrat from Crestwood, found a much shorter line when she returned to Centerfield Baptist Church at 10:30 a.m. EST to cast her vote for Obama.
"I feel like it's time for a change," Blanton said. "I think he's highly intelligent and I think it's about time we have a highly intelligent president."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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