The 2008 presidential election was, at least according to the head of York County's Democratic Party, "lightning in a bottle."
It's not the sort of magic anyone can expect to recapture for this year, said Bob Kefauver, because that type of enthusiasm for a candidate only happens a couple of times in a lifetime. He supposed the last time it happened was when John F. Kennedy ran for president.
But Kefauver and his Republican counterpart are expecting a big turnout Tuesday, with both sides fighting not just for the White House but the state House.
Nikki Suchanic, the county's director of elections and voter registration, said she's expecting turnout to be about the same Tuesday as it was in 2008 -- 66 percent.
That year, 196,459 Yorkers cast ballots, a record-breaking number. The turnout rate has been higher than 66 percent, though. In 2004, about 69 percent of registered voters showed up for the general election, but only about 182,000 people cast ballots.
In both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, York performed better than the national turnout rate of 64 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Expect some lines: The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Suchanic said she's not expecting the long lines of 2008, "but I'm not going to be naive; I'm sure there will be some places where there's a line."
She said the busiest times for polling places are typically in the morning as people leave for work, during the lunch break, and between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. when people leave work.
"We did discuss with all of our poll workers ways to be creative about processing voters as efficiently as possible," she said. "But you'll have close to 70 percent of the registered voters trying to be in the same place at the same time."
She said people who want to avoid crowds might consider voting in the times when polls are less busy.
Big races: Suchanic's office doesn't track turnout percentages by party for presidential elections because members of all parties can vote, she said. There are numerous party affiliations listed in York, from anarchists to whigs.
Kefauver said York's Democratic voters will turn out at about the same rate they did in 2008, casting ballots for President Barack Obama based on his achievements over the past four years.
Closely watched races for local Democrats include state Rep. Eugene DePasquale's bid for state Auditor General, Kefauver said.
"We're feeling very confident ... and fully expect him to win," he said.
Democrats are also excited about Rob Teplitz in the race against John McNally for the 15th Senate District seat being vacated by Jeff Piccola, Kefauver said, and Democratic attorney Sarah Speed has "a very good chance" of unseating incumbent state Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Springettsbury Township, for the 47th House District.
Bob Wilson, chairman of the York County Republican Party, said he's expecting Republicans to turn out in larger numbers than they did in 2008, repeating the 1980 tide of voters for Ronald Reagan.
"The vast majority of the base in York County is overwhelmingly supporting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," he said.
Wilson said York is also one of eight Pennsylvania counties that are "must win" for statewide candidates.
"It's a crucial election for us," he said. "I'm very bullish, very confident. We need 68 percent of the presidential vote, and if that happens we will turn Pennsylvania red (Republican). It's a top-down ticket and if Romney fares well, it's good for the rest of the ticket."
Wilson said he expects all Republican incumbents -- which include all of the York County House and Senate delegations except Democrat DePasquale -- to retain their seats.
"Sarah Speed is a great young individual with a future ahead of her," he said. "Unfortunately, I think she should stick to a municipality race before going to a state race. She's not going to win at the end of the day. Gillespie will win by larger numbers than most people are expecting. But choice is always good."
Wilson said he's expecting a close race between McNally and Teplitz, but "we're working the ground-game in that race very hard."