Clinton, Obama each score in early Super Tuesday states

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 5, 2008 

— Hillary Clinton marched across the Northeast and border South on Tuesday, winning state after state with a coalition of women, older voters andmoderates, but Barack Obama scored his own string of victories across the country.

Although Obama increasingly had drawn big, enthusiastic crowds across the nation, the New York senator showed impressive breadth in winning her home state and key battlegrounds in New Jersey and Massachusetts while rolling through Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Obama, though, wouldn't fade, as the Illinois senator won states with large black voting blocs: Georgia, Alabama and Delaware - while taking primaries in his home state and Connecticut as well as caucuses in North Dakota, Kansas and Minnesota.

Clinton's triumph in Massachusetts was typical of her victories throughout the evening. Fifty-eight percent of the voters were women, according to exit polls, and they gave her a 17-point edge. She also beat Obama by 7 points among Latino voters, and did very well among moderates.

She held back from declaring victory Tuesday night when speaking to supporters in New York. Instead, she recited her campaign themes and said: "I look forward to continuing our campaign and our debate about how to leave this country better off for the next generation. That is the work of my life."

Obama countered Clinton's win in Massachusetts with a win in neighboring Connecticut, where local political leaders tended to rally behind him and brought the state's large liberal community with them.

He also did well in states such as Georgia, where more than half the voting population was African-American and went for him by 8 to 1. He got 39 percent of whites. His appeal also followed another familiar pattern: He won the 18- to 29-year-old vote by 77 to 21 percent.

While winning statewide popular-vote margins carries psychological importance for any candidate, neither Clinton nor Obama expected to gain a significant advantage from final results in the all-important convention-delegate count because of the Democrats' complex system of awarding delegates.

Neither side wanted to claim victory Tuesday night, and both wanted to look ahead to the remaining contests.

Clinton's top strategist, Mark Penn, was upbeat but cautious, saying "we've seen some encouraging results in some of these early states."

He urged Obama to debate Clinton four times this month, saying "our campaign believes it's critically important we continue the debate between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton," he said.

Obama's camp didn't immediately accept the challenge.

"Our schedule's not going to be dictated by the Clinton campaign," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said.

Obama was hoping that the strengths he'd showed in previous primaries would lead him to win East Coast and Southern states.

Connecticut and Massachusetts have large blocs of liberal voters, as well as voters swayed by the endorsements of the Kennedy family, and blacks make up an estimated 35 percent of Delaware's Democratic vote and about one-fourth of Tennessee's and Alabama's totals.

The voting suggested that the patterns that had been evident throughout the campaign were continuing, as the race between Clinton and Obama has had the same feel in state after state: Clinton does well among older voters and women, while Obama captures younger and minority voters.

Voters younger than 30, in particular, found themselves irked by what they saw as politics as usual.

Obama also benefited from the celebrity culture that younger voters have known all their lives.

"In California, particularly, star power means a lot," said Mark Baldassare, the president of the Public Policy Institute of California. The combination of Obama and supporters Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver at a rally Sunday at the University of California at Los Angeles was powerful celebrity wattage.

Despite that and palpable momentum, Obama couldn't derail Clinton's organizational strength Tuesday. She showed that she had too much support not only from her usual cadre of voters but also from the party establishment.

"Clinton seemed to have the support of every available Latino politician," said Kareem Crayton, assistant professor of law and political science at the University of Southern California, notably Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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