- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton split up the electoral map on Super Tuesday with Mr. Obama winning a majority of smaller, red states while Mrs. Clinton captured the biggest prizes of the night.

He made inroads with male voters and in the predominantly white Midwestern and mountain states, and won substantial victories with black voters. Mrs. Clinton’s strength with women and Hispanic voters helped her capture her delegate-rich home state of New York and California.

Based on projections, Mr. Obama had won 13 states and Mrs. Clinton had won eight, allowing him to claim momentum while her big-state wins would help her fundraise and tout wider support.

Both Democrats were expected to come out about even in the race for delegates as each campaign hunkered down for a contest that will likely stretch on into March and beyond.

Buoyed by confident supporters, Mrs. Clinton gave a peppy speech with a focus on the continuing contest.

“Tonight is America’s night, and it’s not over yet because the polls are still open in California for a few more minutes,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters in New York.

Mr. Obama won two tight races in her backyard Connecticut and Delaware. He also banked decisive wins in Georgia and Alabama, where blacks are a major voting bloc, and in some of the nation’s whitest states Kansas, Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska. Mr. Obama, who has a fundraising advantage with a $32 million January, twice Mrs. Clinton’s take, also indicated he would continue to fight.

“The votes are still being counted in cities and towns across America,” he said from a Chicago party. “One thing on this February night that we do not need the final results to know … our time has come, our movement is real and change is coming to America.”

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he told his cheering audience, closing his speech by leading his audience in the chant “yes, we can.”

But the Clinton team seized what it called the “upset of the night” by winning in Massachusetts, a state where Mr. Obama had endorsements from nearly every top politician.

Earlier yesterday Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s endorsement of Mr. Obama would help him in the Bay State and that if he didn’t win there, “I think that would have to be a significant disappointment.”

Mr. Obama also had the backing of the state’s governor and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, factors that the Clinton campaign pointed out in talking points sent to reporters. A Fox 5/The Washington Times/ Rasmussen Reports poll showed that most voters felt the Kennedy endorsement had little effect on their preferred candidate.

But it seemed the endorsements from Kansas Gov. Kathy Sebelius and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri helped Mr. Obama he won Kansas with a big margin and networks flipped their projections through the night before early this morning calling the bellwether state of Missouri as a razor-thin win for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama won his home state of Illinois; while Mrs. Clinton captured both her home state of New York and Arkansas, where she lived for 20 years during her husband’s early political career. They each pulled in a major victory early in the night. She also carried neighboring New Jersey.

Obama aides were lauding his home state margin as an “unexpected” advantage over Mrs. Clinton since he won by a larger percentage than she won in New York. The Obama campaign sent out mutiple polls showing her with double-digit leads just a few weeks ago in several states he won last night and a few where she won by a smaller margin than polls had indicated. His team also noted his strength with Democrats in Connecticut and Delaware, since both states did not allow independent voters to participate in party primaries.

Obama aides were lauding his home state margin as an “unexpected” advantage over Mrs. Clinton since he won by a larger percentage than she won in New York. The Obama campaign sent out mutiple polls showing her with double-digit leads just a few weeks ago in several states he won last night and a few where she won by a smaller margin than polls had indicated. His team also noted his strength with Democrats in Connecticut and Delaware, since both states did not allow independent voters to participate in party primaries.

Mrs. Clinton won Oklahoma nearly 2-to-1 and won by 20 points in Tennessee, which prompted her campaign to needle her rival.

“The Obama campaign has been spinning that they have a monopoly on red states; tonight we showed they don’t,” Team Clinton wrote to reporters, adding that Mrs. Clinton “can compete and win in red states.”

In Georgia, Mr. Obama captured nearly 90 percent of the black vote and about 40 percent of white voters. He also won the 40- to 59-year-old demographic that had previously seemed to favor Mrs. Clinton. The Obama campaign trumpeted that win, the first announced result of the evening, as “achieved through a broad coalition of voters.”

As in previous contests, Democratic turnout was at record highs across the country. That was especially true in New Mexico, even though a winter storm forced Gov. Bill Richardson to declare a state of emergency, and deadly tornadoes forced polls to close in Tennessee.

Associated Press exit polls showed that Mr. Obama was starting to take away some of Mrs. Clinton’s strong support among female voters. He also held an advantage with white men in several states.

She was winning about 60 percent of Hispanic voters, down slightly from previous polls and results in Nevada last month that showed her with support from more than two-thirds of Hispanic voters. But Mr. Obama won Hispanic voters in Illinois, and his campaign said he was doing better than expected with that population in Arizona and New Mexico.

Both campaigns said yesterday that they think the Super Tuesday delegate counts will be “inconclusive” toward the overall nomination and were looking ahead to contests in Maine, Louisiana and the Washington region.

Earlier yesterday, the Clinton campaign announced that it had accepted several debate invitations, including one for the District, Maryland and Virginia region next week.

Clinton strategist Mark Penn noted that the two candidates have had just one face-to-face debate since the other candidates dropped out of the race and said his boss will benefit from more meetings.

But Team Clinton downplayed expectations yesterday before the polls closed.

Mr. Wolfson said Mr. Obama has “enormous momentum” and said that the Sunday California rally with Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and state first lady Maria Shriver probably helped Mrs. Clinton’s rival.

Both campaigns said last night their delegate counts would be about even in the morning, but Mr. Plouffe said Mr. Obama’s margins of victory help him in the overall delegate race.

“We’re not ekeing out wins here, from a delegate standpoint they are producing big numbers for us,” he said. Clinton staffer Guy Cecil also pushed a near-tied delegate result. “This is not going to be decided anytime in the near future as far as we can see,” he said.

Mr. Wolfson said Super Tuesday is “just another step on the road to Denver,” where the nomination convention will be held in August.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said on CNN yesterday that he has no idea how the nomination will shape up but believes it will be wrapped up long before Denver, site of the national convention.

“You don’t want a bitterly divided convention,” he said. “The voters get to choose the nominee and I think the voters will choose the nominee. We haven’t had [a brokered convention] since 1952 and the odds are that we won’t have one this time either.”

There are 1,681 delegates at stake today for the Democrats. The candidates need 2,025 to get the nomination. Mrs. Clinton held a 261-to-191 delegate lead prior to today, although a large part of that lead is public endorsements from Democratic “superdelegate” office-holders who are not bound by their declarations.

Jon Ward contributed to this report.

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