(CNSNews.com) - With less than half the polls reporting, Arizona Senator John McCain has been projected as the winner over Texas Governor George W Bush in Tuesday's Republican presidential primaries in Michigan and Arizona.
In Michigan, based on projections by multiple news sources, McCain is expected to receive 49 percent of the votes cast versus 45 percent for Bush. Former diplomat Alan Keyes is predicted to finish third with six percent of the vote.
If McCain's lead holds up, the former Vietnam POW owes much of his victory to independent voters and Democrats, who made up the majority of voters in Michigan's open primary. Exit polls indicate that 33 percent of the people who voted in the contest identified themselves as independent, and 18 percent said they were Democrats. That means that just 49 percent of the voters in the Michigan GOP primary were Republicans, the lowest percentage turnout for a Republican primary this year.
Bush carried the Republican vote by 67-25 percent, but McCain won the Democratic vote by 80-13 percent.
Bush has not yet conceded to McCain, but he did tell reporters that if early projections hold up he would "congratulate" him.
"It is too close to call. What is not too close to call is what Republicans in the state of Michigan are going to say. Among Republicans in the state of Michigan and those independents who share our compassionate conservatism, there is no question who is the winner tonight and you're looking at him," Bush told reporters.
McCain spent the evening in Arizona waiting the results of his home state's primary, where he is also projected to win, but by a much larger margin than in Michigan.
"It's so good to be home," he told supporters as he voted this morning in Phoenix.
Although Michigan has 58 delegates to the GOP national convention, Tuesday's primary was not a winner take all contest. Each of the state's 16 congressional districts has three delegates, which are won on a per district basis. The remaining 10 delegates are at large, and they go to the overall winner, in this case McCain. It is estimated that Bush will win about 22 of the Michigan delegates.
Arizona has 30 delegates up for grabs.
The Michigan primary ended on a low note with Bush accusing McCain of calling him an "anti-Catholic" religious bigot because of his appearance at Bob Jones University, whose president Bob Jones once referred to the Pope as the "anti-Christ." Bush flatly denied the allegations that he is an anti-Catholic, saying that many on his campaign staff are Catholic, as well as his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
"I reject bigotry and I repudiate anti-Catholicism and racism and I reject the politics of those who try to pit one group of Americans against another and those who try divide us based upon our race or based upon our faith," Bush said.
"[McCain] called me an anti-Catholic bigot and I don't appreciate it," said Bush. "It's as low as it gets."