MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Republican Party had a big night in Alabama, with Mitt Romney carrying the state in the presidential race, Roy Moore getting his old job back as chief justice, and Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh knocking out the last Democrat holding statewide race.
State Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead called it "a tremendous night" for the GOP and huge blow for Democrats. "Barack Obama has been their worst enemy. He's moved the Democratic Party so far to the left that Alabamians can't identify with the party," he said.
State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy said the GOP demonized Obama and that impacted Democrats running for statewide office.
Romney was polling 61 percent of the vote late Tuesday night, which was slightly better than John McCain's total in Alabama four years earlier.
Cavanaugh posted 55 percent of the vote in the race for president of the Public Service Commission to oust Democratic incumbent Lucy Baxley and likely end the political career of the Democratic Party war horse.
In the race for chief, Moore tallied 52 percent of the vote against Democrat Bob Vance with 96 percent of the precincts reporting.
Moore said he won with less than half of what Vance spent and without taking money from special interest groups or political action committees.
"Everybody in this state knows what I stand for and they approved it by a margin of more than 75,000 votes," he said.
In the only contested race for the State Board of Education, Republican Tracy Roberts of Spanish Fort tallied 71 percent of the vote with three-fourths of the precincts reporting to defeat Democrat Herndon Inge of Mobile in District 1, which stretches from Mobile County to Covington County in south Alabama.
Election officials said voters bombarded the polls Tuesday, resulting in full parking lots and long lines. Voters at the Irondale Senior Citizen Center in Jefferson County reported standing in line three hours. Voters in many place reported 90-minute waits.
In the presidential race, exit polling showed Romney was the choice of eight out of 10 white voters, seven out of 10 voters of retirement age, and seven out of 10 voters with household incomes topping $50,000 annually. The big break for him was carrying nearly eight out of 10 independent voters.
"There was never any question in my mind," state Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said from the party's victory celebration at a Hoover gun shop.
No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Alabama since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Exit polling showed Democratic incumbent Barack Obama was the favorite with African-American voters and those who feel government should do more to solve problems.
In interviews outside polling places, many Romney supporters said they were voting against Obama because of his support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
"He doesn't stand for Christian values," said 73-year-old retiree Barbara Jordan of Montgomery.
"If he gets elected again this will be a third world country. Obama has been the worst president since Jimmy Carter," said Paul Jordan, her 73-year-old husband.
Sarah Edwards, a 65-year-old living on disability payments in Clanton, said she was pleased with Obama's performance and doesn't blame him for the slow economic recovery.
"Look at what he had when he got there," she said. "He doesn't control business. They decide who to hire on their own."
Asia Mohammad, a 40-year-old sales manager in Montgomery, said she voted for Obama because she sees the economy turning around.
"The deciding factor for me was knowing our president is trying. We have to give him the opportunity to finish what he started," she said.
In the race for chief justice, citizens said they voted for and voted against Moore because he got kicked out of the chief justice's job in 2003 for refusing to abide by a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building.
"I voted for Roy Moore because of his religious stand several years ago," said Martha Hanners, a 70-year-old retired administrative employee from Montgomery.
Mazelle Bowden, a 65-year-old assisted living facility administrator from Montgomery, said she felt the Ten Commandments battle was about promoting Moore politically, and she voted for Vance because of his TV commercials.
"I liked the way he looked and talked, and I liked his children," she said.
In the race for PSC president, Cavanaugh said she was humbled by the outcome because she narrowly lost to Baxley in 2008. She will be sworn into office Wednesday and said she will start work immediately on her top goal of helping recruit jobs.
Some voters said they supported Baxley because of her long record of public service, including being Alabama's first female lieutenant governor, but others said the 74-year-old's health problems, including a stroke in 2006, made them choose Cavanaugh, 46.
"I love Lucy, but she hasn't been showing up and doing what she's supposed to be doing because of her situation," said Bob Howard, a 57-year-old loss prevention officer at a Montgomery home improvement store.