McCain wins Conn., N.J., Ill. primaries
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 13 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain won primaries in
Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois Tuesday night,
reaching for command of the race for the Republican
presidential nomination. Barack Obama and Hillary
Rodham Clinton swapped victories as they waged a
coast-coast struggle for delegates in the grueling
Obama won in Georgia and his home state of Illinois.
Clinton countered in Oklahoma.
McCain's leading rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney, won a home state victory.
The Associated Press made its calls based on surveys
of voters as they left the polls.
After an early series of low-delegate, single-state
contests, Super Tuesday was anything but � 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, Republicans McCain,
Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee doing
Huckabee won the inaugural Super Tuesday event at the
West Virginia Republican convention, netting 18
Georgia was Obama's second straight Southern triumph,
and like an earlier win in South Carolina it was
powered by black votes.
African-Americans accounted for slightly more than
half the ballots cast in Georgia, and he was gaining
about 90 percent of them. Clinton won nearly 60
percent of the white votes, a reduced advantage
compared to her showing in earlier states.
Democrats awarded their delegates in rough proportion
to the popular vote.
Not so Republicans, who held several winner-take-all
New Jersey and Connecticut were among them, and they
gave McCain 79 delegates in the two combined �
leaving his rivals with nothing to show for their
Overall, Clinton was winning only a slight edge among
women and white voters, both 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, and
Clinton was gaining the votes of roughly six in 10
In the GOP race, McCain had a small edge among voters
calling themselves Republicans, a group he had not won
in any of the earlier races. As usual, he was running
strongly among independents. Gov. Mitt 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 former
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee about one in five.
Democrats and Republicans alike said the economy was
their most important issue. Democrats said the war in
Iraq ranked second and health care third. Republican
primary voters said immigration was second most
important after the economy, followed by the war in
The survey was conducted in 16 states by Edison Media
Research and Mitofsky International for The Associated
Press and television networks.
McCain was the Republican front-runner, all but
unchallenged in winner-take-all primaries in New York,
New Jersey and Connecticut. He looked for a home-state
win in Arizona, as well.
Democrats Obama and Clinton conceded in advance that
neither was likely to emerge from the busiest day in
primary history with anything more than a relatively
narrow edge in convention delegates.
"Senator Clinton, I think, has to be the prohibitive
favorite going in given her name recognition, but
we've been steadily chipping away," said Obama,
seeking to downplay expectations.
As she voted in Chappaqua, N.Y., Clinton said, "The
stakes are huge."
Her aides conceded in advance that Obama might win
more Super Tuesday delegates than the former first
Already, both campaigns were looking ahead to Feb. 9
contests in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington state
and Feb. 12 primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the
District of Columbia. And increasingly, it looked like
the Democrats' historic race between a woman and a
black man would go into early spring, possibly longer.
Democrats had 1,681 Super Tuesday delegates to
allocate in primaries in 15 states and caucuses in
seven more plus American Samoa.
Clinton led Obama in the delegate chase as the polls
opened, 261 to 202, on the strength of so-called
superdelegates. They are members of Congress and other
party leaders, not chosen by primary voters or
caucus-goers. It takes 2,025 delegates to win the
Republicans had 1,023 delegates at stake in 15
primaries, six caucuses and one state convention.
The evening began with McCain holding 102 delegates,
to 93 for Romney, 43 for Huckabee and four for Paul.
It takes 1,191 to win the Republican nomination.
The de facto national primary was the culmination of a
relentless campaign that moved into overdrive during
After a brief rest for the holiday, the candidates
flew back to Iowa on Dec. 26 for a final stretch of
campaigning before the state's caucuses offered the
first test of the election year. New Hampshire's
traditional first-in-the-nation primary followed a few
days later, then a seemingly endless series of
campaign days interspersed by debates and a handful of
primaries and caucuses.
Along the way, the poorest performers dropped out:
Democratic Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, New Mexico
Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio;
and Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo,
and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.
Former Sen. John Edwards pulled out of the Democratic
race last week, and former New York Mayor Rudy
Giuliani left the Republican field.
Edwards offered no endorsement as he exited, instead
leaving Obama and Clinton to vie for help from his
fundraisers and supporters.
But Obama benefited from an endorsement by Sen. Edward
M. Kennedy, who made a series of campaign appearances
in California as well as his home state of
Giuliani quit the race and backed McCain in the same
breath, clearing the way for the Westerner in New York
and New Jersey.
Giuliani's departure also made it possible for
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to back McCain.
Schwarzenegger said he would not have done so as long
as the former mayor was in the race.
Obama and Clinton spent an estimated $20 million
combined to advertise on television in the Feb 5
Obama spent $11 million, running ads in 18 of the 22
states with Democratic contests. Clinton ran ads in
17, for a total of $9 million.
Neither advertised in Illinois, Obama's home state.