Big states for Clinton but more for Obama
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won victories over Sen. Barack Obama in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York on Tuesday, giving...
The Washington Post
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won victories over Sen. Barack Obama in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York on Tuesday, giving her presidential campaign a crucial boost. But Obama countered by winning a string of states, including the general-election battleground of Missouri, in the seesaw race for the Democratic nomination.
The results ensured that the fierce contest for delegates will continue into Washington state on Saturday, as well as to critical primaries in Texas and Ohio on March 4 and possibly beyond, in what has become the party's most competitive race in at least 25 years.
Clinton claimed four of the five biggest prizes in Super Tuesday's 22-state Democratic competition. She also captured Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee and the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Those victories helped stem what appeared to be gathering momentum around Obama's candidacy since he won in South Carolina on Jan. 26.
But Obama won in more places Tuesday than his New York rival, racking up victories in his home state of Illinois, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah. His narrow victory in Missouri came after Clinton had appeared on the brink of winning there. Only the outcome in New Mexico remained unresolved late Tuesday.
In many of the states Clinton won, Obama surged from far behind to narrow the gap in the days before Super Tuesday. Her ability to hold off his charge brought a sense of relief to her campaign advisers, but the results were also a sign that their roller-coaster competition would continue.
Clinton appeared before supporters in New York shortly before the polls closed in California, thanking her supporters for voting "not just to make history, but to remake America." Saying Republicans want "eight more years of the same," she added, "They've got until January 20th, 2009, and not one day more."
Obama, who was in Chicago, came out later and, while congratulating Clinton on her successes, drew a contrast with his rival, saying voters in November deserve a clear choice between the Republican and Democratic nominees.
"It's a choice between going into this election with Republicans and independents already united against us, or going against their nominee with a campaign that has united Americans of all parties, from all backgrounds, from all races, from all religions, around a common purpose," he said.
Clinton and Obama were fighting not just for state-by-state victories but also for an advantage in the 1,681 delegates up for grabs Tuesday. Aides to both candidates said that, regardless of how the two carved up the states, neither would emerge with enough of an edge to claim a substantial advantage.
Delegate tallies lagged well behind the state-by-state results, given the complex formulas the Democrats use to determine the allocation.
Clinton's victory in Massachusetts was especially sweet for her campaign, coming despite endorsements of Obama by Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick that gave him hope for substantial momentum heading into Tuesday's primaries.
Clinton advisers called it "the biggest surprise of the night." Obama advisers had warned Clinton's lead could be too large to overcome, but the loss was nonetheless a disappointment to his campaign.
Though the Clinton team hailed Massachusetts as an upset, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said after the race was called that he was "not surprised at all" by her win in the state. Clinton won the Bay State largely on the strength of her support from women, who made up more than half the electorate from coast to coast.
Exit polls from the National Election Pool showed Clinton with a double-digit lead among women in the state, where she attended college as an undergraduate. She also won among self-identified independents, normally a solid constituency for Obama.
"We feel quite good about how those returns have come in," Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, said in a conference call late Tuesday.
Penn said people who made up their minds late were trending toward Clinton, though early exit data suggested there was an even split between the two.
In the South, Clinton more than held her own. She lost Georgia — one of only a few states (including Illinois) where she lost among women — but triumphed in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas, her former home state. The race continued to split along racial lines, as Obama won about eight in 10 African Americans, a trend that put him over the top in Georgia and Alabama.
Still, he won nearly four in 10 white voters in Georgia and fared better among white men there than he had in an earlier racially polarized race in South Carolina, giving his campaign a chance to claim that he had broadened his support in the intervening weeks. Victories in Connecticut and North Dakota bolstered that claim.
The race in Missouri remained close even as other states were called; an early tally in Clinton's favor proved premature as the night wore on. But Obama's win in the state reflected a wider sweep for him among African Americans: He won more than three-fourths of the state's black voters, while Clinton beat him among senior citizens 2-to-1.
The demographics of the Democratic race suggested a contest that is dividing along racial and gender lines, as Clinton won the votes of 7 in 10 white women in New Jersey, and three-quarters of Hispanic women.
The candidates divided men in New Jersey evenly. In Tennessee, Clinton won white voters of all ages; Obama won blacks across the board. Similar splits occurred in California, where black voters chose Obama 5-to-1. But the two split the white vote in California, where Clinton made up the difference by winning Hispanics 2-to-1.
The 22 states that held Democratic contests Tuesday account for 52 percent of all pledged delegates awarded during the nomination battle. There will be 4,049 delegates attending the national convention; a candidate needs 2,025 to secure the nomination.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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