Michigan voters headed to the polls Tuesday in a presidential primary that could prove pivotal for the leading Republican candidates, but has generated less interest on the Democratic side with Hillary Rodham Clinton the only top tier candidate on the ballot.
About 20 percent of eligible voters were expected to turn out across the state, where freezing temperature prevailed and snow was forecast.
The economy has dominated the closely contested GOP race in recent days, with front-runners Mitt Romney and John McCain both pledging to lead a revival for a state and an auto industry ravaged by recession.
Polls showed McCain and Romney in a close race, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee running third.
Of the three, Romney is most in need of a victory as he looks to restore at least some of the luster lost with defeats in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Several associates have suggested the former Massachusetts governor may quit the race unless he prevails.
McCain won the state's primary eight years ago on the strength of independent voters, and hopes for a reprise on Tuesday. He has regained the lead in the national polls that he enjoyed months ago - before his campaign nearly came apart over the summer.
Among the Democrats, Barack Obama and John Edwards pulled their names from ballot after Michigan broke national party rules by moving up its primary date. Their supporters were urging voters to vote for uncommitted, which could leave some delegates free to back Obama or Edwards. Write-in votes won't be counted.
The primary date itself is unusual for Michigan, which typically doesn't hold presidential primaries until February. The date was moved up over the objections of national party leaders to try and give the state more say in the selection of presidential candidates. The move cost Michigan all of its Democratic national convention delegates and half its Republican ones.
State party leaders are confident the delegates eventually will be seated.
Next up for the Democrats were precinct caucuses Saturday in Nevada, where a debate was scheduled for Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
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