Tuesday, February 5, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) Sen. John McCain swept a string of delegate-rich primaries along the East Coast Tuesday night, reaching for command of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama swapped victories in a grueling Democratic race.

McCain, whose campaign nearly unraveled six months ago, won in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware to gain all 198 delegates at stake. He also put Illinois in his column.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won in Alabama and in his home state. He also triumphed at the Republican West Virginia convention.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, won a home state victory.

Clinton, seeking to become the first female president, won at home in New York as well as in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas, where she was first lady for more than a decade.

Obama, hoping to become the first black president, won in Georgia, Alabama and Delaware as well as his home state of Illinois.

After an early series of low-delegate, single-state contests, Super Tuesday was anything but small its primaries and caucuses were spread across nearly half the country in the most wide-open presidential campaign in memory.

The result was a double-barreled set of races, Obama and Clinton fighting for delegates as well as bragging rights in individual states, the Republicans doing the same.

Polling place interviews with voters suggested subtle shifts in the political landscape.

McCain held a small edge among voters calling themselves Republicans, a group he had not won in any of the earlier primaries or caucuses. As usual, he was running strongly among independents. Romney was getting the votes of about four in 10 people who described themselves as conservative. McCain was wining about one-third of that group, and Huckabee about one in five.

Overall, Clinton was winning only a slight edge among women and white voters, groups that she had won handily in earlier contests, according to preliminary results from interviews with voters in 16 states leaving polling places. Obama was collecting the overwhelming majority of votes cast by blacks.

Clinton was gaining the votes of roughly six in 10 Hispanics, and hoped the edge would serve her well as the race turned west to Arizona, New Mexico and California, the biggest prize with 370 delegates.

Alabama and Georgia gave Obama three straight Southern triumphs. Like last month’s win in South Carolina, they were powered by black votes.

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