Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won their party's respective presidential primaries Tuesday in Virginia, a swing state likely to play a key role in November's general election.
Clinton easily defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary with overwhelming support from African-Americans, women, and older voters, exit polls show.
Trump narrowly defeated Marco Rubio in a tight Republican race, thanks in large part to strong support from Virginia's evangelical, rural, lower-income and less educated voters, according to the exit polls.
With the win, Clinton and Trump add to a recent string of wins in early primaries, strengthening their positions as front-runners.
Turnout was high across the state, causing long lines in some areas, but state election officials said they were unaware of any major problems. In Arlington County, election officials had to photocopy Republican ballots to meet ``unprecedented'' GOP demand, said Linda Lindberg, the county's director of elections.
As a nod to Virginia's cachet as a diverse state that will help decide the general election, every candidate made at least one stop here in the days before the primary.
Clinton focused heavily on shoring up support from African-American voters. She also relied on high-profile surrogates to stump for her, including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her longtime friend Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
"Her husband was pretty good, so I want to give her a chance,'' said Adrian Harris, a 58-year-old Richmond resident. The retired mechanic said he feared a Trump victory in November would send the country into "turmoil.''
"America is strong when we are all strong," Clinton said Tuesday night in Miami, Florida. "We know we have work to do. That work is not to make America great again. America never stopped being great."
Trump, speaking from Palm Beach, Florida, responded.
She wants to make America whole again, and I'm trying to figure that out. Make American Great Again is going to be better than Make American Whole Again."
Rubio, speaking from Miami, vowed to beat Trump.
"We will not let the next president of the U.S. be a con artist. We will not allow the next president of the U.S. to be a socialist like Bernie Sanders. We will not allow the next president of the U.S. to be under FBI investigation like Hillary Clinton," he said.
Who Voted How?
Clinton received strong support from women, blacks, voters who put a premium on experience and older residents to win Virginia's Democratic presidential primary, according to preliminary results of exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks.
In the Republican primary, front-runner Trump fared well among lower-income and less-educated voters, as well as people who looking for a leader who "tells it like it is" and will be an agent for change, the early data showed. Trump's closest rival in a tight GOP battle, Marco Rubio, was favored by voters who said the most important consideration is choosing a nominee who can win in November.
- Democrat Bernie Sanders dominated among voters under 30 and those who said they value honesty, the preliminary data indicated.
- The younger the voters in the Democratic primary, the better 74-year-old Sanders fared. Four in 10 voters were under age 45, and nearly 6 in 10 of them voted for the Vermont senator. He ran even stronger among voters under age 25, getting 7 of 10 votes.
- Conversely, Clinton was favored by about three-fourths of voters 45 and older. She also won the vote of about 8 in 10 blacks.
- Clinton was the favorite among voters who think the ability to win is most important, gaining better than 8 in 10 votes among that group.
- More than a third of voters considered the right experience the most important quality, and 9 in 10 of them voted for Clinton.
- More than half of the voters who earn less than $50,000 a year voted for Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul. Nobody else got more than about 2 in 10 votes among that group.
- Rubio was the leader among the most-educated voters, getting the support of 4 in 10 of those with post-graduate study.
- About seven in 10 Republican voters who said it's most important to have a candidate who "tells it like it is" voted for Trump.
- Six in 10 voters who said the most important thing is having a candidate who can win in November voted for Rubio.
The exit poll survey was conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 30 randomly selected sites in Virginia. Preliminary results include interviews with 1,370 Democratic primary voters and 1,407 Republican primary voters. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
What's at Stake?
Republicans voted in 11 states Tuesday, with 595 delegates at stake; 49 of those are in Virginia. Democrats cast ballots in 11 states as well as American Samoa, with 865 delegates up for grabs; 95 of those are in Virginia.
The winners in Virginia are likely to say that their victories show they can do well in the general election, as the Old Dominion has a diverse electorate and is expected to be an important swing state, experts say.
"Virginia is America in miniature," said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. "A win here means more than a win in a lot of other states."
"Virginia is as good a bellwether as there is for the national electorate, so we wanted her to have a big win tonight," Sen. Tim Kaine said.
Virginia voters told News4 this election was too important to stay home. Voters lined up outside many polling places early Tuesday, before polls had opened.
"It's been a pretty wild election season. It's been entertaining up 'til now, but I'm thinking it's not funny anymore," one voter said.
"A lot is at stake in this country at the moment," another voter said.
What Do We Know About Voter Turnout?
The GOP in Virginia said a record number of voters, more than 1 million, turned out for the Republican ticket.
Higher-than-expected Republican turnout in Arlington County forced election officials to photocopy ballots to meet demand.
Linda Lindberg, the county's director of elections, said several precincts ran short on GOP ballots due to "unprecedented" turnout. Lindberg said 33 percent of Arlington County voters participated in the Democratic primary in 2008, while just 7 percent cast Republican ballots. This year, she expects Republican turnout to be around 15 percent, compared to 25 percent for Democrats.
In Fairfax County, election officials said more than 700,000 people registered to vote -- an increase of nearly 100,000 voters from 2008.
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck said GOP voters were fired up to get to the polls.
"The evidence is clear that we're looking at a record turnout in Virginia,'' he said.
Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said she expected turnout on the Democratic side to be "robust," but wasn't sure whether it would be record setting.
What Were Voters Thinking at the Polls?
Donald Trump was on the mind of many voters in both parties.
Troy Waller, who cast his vote for Trump in Richmond's Church Hill neighborhood, said the country is need of a "shake-up." He said he likes that Trump is an outsider.
"He's got a different way of looking at things, and he's an independent-thinking guy," Walker said. "He's not going to be influenced by anyone else."
But other Republicans said they were casting votes specifically for candidates they thought had the best chance to beat Trump.
Jim Cahill, a retiree who lives in Chesterfield County, said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has the best chance of beating Trump. But Cahill said he voted for Cruz "reluctantly" -- he doesn't think the senator is a "straight-shooter."
"I just don't care for the guy," Cahill said. "I want to stop Trump."
Retiring U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, who represents Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, issued an open letter Tuesday calling on his supporters to vote for "any candidate but Donald Trump."
"Everything I have learned in life about leadership, about business, and about our incredible country tells me to pull every alarm in the house. A con man is among us," Rigell said.
Even some Democrats were voting in the Republican primary with an aim to stop Trump. Virginia holds open primaries, in which registered voters can choose to vote in either primary.
Nicole Freed, a disabled 32-year-old Army veteran who served in Iraq, said she cast her primary ballot for Republican Marco Rubio with the simple aim of knocking Donald Trump off the Republican ballot in November.
"I can't let Trump win," she said.
Other voters said said they didn't like any of the candidates.
"If there was a candidate for 'none of the above,' that's what I would pick," Prince William County voter Gary Miller said.