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Clinton Takes New York and Tennessee

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/2008/02/super_tuesday_democrats.html Clinton Takes New York and Tennessee By Chris Cillizza washingtonpost.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2008
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      http://blog.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/2008/02/super_tuesday_democrats.html

      Clinton Takes New York and Tennessee

      By Chris Cillizza
      washingtonpost.com staff writer

      Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton traded
      wins in a series of early states with Obama claiming
      victories in his home state of Illinois and Georgia
      while Clinton emerged triumphant in her home state of
      New York, as well as in Oklahoma, Tennessee and
      Arkansas.

      The early results signaled that the anticipated
      outcome of the Super Tuesday showdown -- a close
      contest between Obama and Clinton in states small and
      large across the country -- was playing itself out in
      the early going.

      Obama relied on wide margins among African American
      voters to claim victory in Georgia and prevailed as a
      native son in Illinois. Clinton's political
      establishment support is likely responsible for wins
      in Tennessee and Oklahoma. Clinton's long ties to the
      Razorback State, where her husband spent several terms
      as governor, made Arkansas a sure thing for the New
      York senator. Clinton's campaign touted her two wins
      as evidence she could win in reliably Republican
      territory.

      Because of the proportional manner in which Democrats
      award delegates, what was once expected to be the
      final day of the primary and caucus races was cast by
      both campaigns as simply a battle in a larger war that
      could well extend into April and perhaps all the way
      to the Democratic National Convention in Denver late
      this summer.

      "The nominating battle between Senators Clinton and
      Obama is going to continue well past today's voting,"
      predicted Clinton senior adviser Howard Wolfson in a
      conference call this afternoon.

      A series of critical battlegrounds in which polls
      closed at 8 p.m. remained undecided. That group of
      states includes Missouri, New Jersey and
      Massachusetts. Polling in each of the states in the
      days leading up to today's vote

      Obama carried black voters in Georgia by more than six
      to one, a margin that left him with an impressive
      victory, according to early exit polls. Obama's
      performance showed a remarkable solidarity in the
      black community. He won the support of black men by a
      ten-to-one margin and black women by nine to one,
      according to preliminary exit polls.

      Among white voters in Georgia, however, Clinton beat
      Obama, 57 percent to 39 percent, according to exits.
      Obama's campaign was quick to point out that his 39
      percent showing was a significant improvement over the
      24 percent of the white vote he received in South
      Carolina's primary.

      Clinton won Arkansas and Oklahoma, states in which she
      had large leads in the polls. Clinton has a long
      history in Arkansas, as the state's first lady during
      Bill Clinton's more than ten years as governor. And
      she was well known in neighboring Oklahoma.

      Clinton's win in Tennessee denied Obama another
      southern state where he had hopes of victory because
      of its relatively large black population of roughly 16
      percent. Clinton had led in polls in the Volunteer
      State

      A tornado watch in western Tennessee threatened
      turnout, particularly in predominantly black Shelby
      County, home to Memphis, where Obama hoped to do well.
      Black voters were expected to comprise about a quarter
      of the Democratic primary electorate.

      Political endorsements had already broken along racial
      lines with former Gov. Ned McWherter and much of the
      state's white Democratic establishment backing
      Clinton. Obama has the support of all but one of the
      state's black state legislators.

      Clinton and her husband and Carthage-raised Al Gore
      handily won elections in 1992 and 1996 in the state.
      Obama did not campaign heavily in the state.

      Race became a major issue in the days leading up to
      South Carolina's contest. The Clinton and Obama
      campaigns traded charges and countercharges about
      which side was injecting race into the contest. Cooler
      heads prevailed as a number of neutral observers
      intervened, but the back-and-forth had significant
      ramifications.

      Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most prominent
      African American elected official in South Carolina,
      publicly chastised former President Bill Clinton for
      his attacks on Obama, and Sen. Edward Kennedy
      (D-Mass.) groused privately about the former
      president's tactics and went on to endorse Obama.

      Obama has resisted putting his race front and center
      in the campaign in much the same way Senator Clinton
      has said she is not running as a woman for president
      but rather running for president as a woman.

      Still, the historic nature of the choice -- either
      Clinton or Obama would the represent a first -- has
      drawn massive amounts of attention and money to the
      nomination fight.

      Clinton spent a day in Georgia last Wednesday,
      attending a Democratic Party dinner and speaking to
      Baptist ministers at the convention center in Atlanta.
      Her campaign pointed out that Obama had devoted far
      more time and resources to the Peach State and that
      polling had shown him with a clear lead heading into
      tonight.

      While Obama's victories in Georgia and Illinois are a
      solid sign for his campaign, they are nowhere near
      conclusive with results from 20 other states expected
      as the night wears on.

      Early exit polling in nine battleground states --
      Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts,
      Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee -- in the
      Democratic race suggested an electorate, once again,
      focused on the need for political change. Half of
      voters in each of the nine states said change was the
      key attribute in choosing a candidate; 63 percent
      named change in Obama's home state of Illinois, while
      48 percent chose it as the key factor in Arizona.

      The economy, too, continued to be a prime concern of
      Democratic voters in those nine states, far
      outdistancing the war in Iraq and health care on the
      minds of most voters.

      Because of the proportional manner in which Democrats
      award delegates, what was once expected to be the
      final day of the primary and caucus races was cast by
      both campaigns as simply a battle in a larger war that
      could well extend into April and perhaps all the way
      to the Democratic National Convention in Denver late
      this summer.

      "The nominating battle between Senators Clinton and
      Obama is going to continue well past today's voting,"
      predicted Clinton senior adviser Howard Wolfson in a
      conference call this afternoon.

      Obama and Clinton scoured a handful of competitive
      states over the last 48 hours, hoping to find every
      last vote before the polls closed.

      Clinton, 60, a second-term senator, stayed close to
      home, making campaign stops in Connecticut and
      Massachusetts yesterday -- two states she is expected
      to win -- and then running the gamut of morning
      television shows before voting in her home town of
      Chappaqua, N.Y., earlier today, alongside her husband,
      former president Bill Clinton, and their daughter,
      Chelsea.

      Clinton has campaigned on the theme that she has the
      experience and skills essential to deal with economic
      problems and foreign policy and end U.S. involvement
      in the Iraq war.

      Obama, 45, a first-term senator, visited New Jersey,
      Connecticut and Massachusetts yesterday, and then flew
      from Boston to Chicago to vote at an elementary school
      on that's city's South Side. Obama had more than two
      dozen radio interviews scheduled for the day in a
      last-minute attempt to drive his supporters to the
      polls and persuade undecided Democrats to vote for
      him.

      He portrayed himself as the Democrat best able to make
      a "clean break" with the policies of President Bush
      and best positioned to defeat the Republican nominee
      in November.

      For months, the campaigns and many neutral political
      observers expected Super Tuesday, the largest
      concentration of primaries and caucuses on one day
      ever, to be decisive in terms of identifying the
      eventual Democratic nominee.

      But, as the day drew closer, the two campaigns began
      lowering expectations about scoring a clear win today
      - choosing to emphasize the fact that they saw the
      race as a marathon, not a sprint.

      Wolfson said that today's voting would be "close and
      inconclusive," adding that Clinton would win a
      "diverse mix" of states today and would maintain her
      current lead in the race for delegates.

      Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton accused the
      Clinton campaign of trying to lower expectations in
      advance of today's vote while Burton engaged in the
      same tactic himself. "We fully expect Senator Clinton
      to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win
      more states," said Burton. "If we were to be within
      100 delegates on that day and win a number of states,
      we will have met our threshold for success and will be
      best positioned to win the nomination in the coming
      months."

      At stake in today's contests for Democrats were 1,681
      pledged delegates -- more than half the total of those
      delegates nationwide. A total of 2,025 delegate votes
      are needed to win the nomination at the party's
      convention. Of 4,049 total delegate votes to be cast
      at the convention, 3,253 will come from the "pledged
      delegates" that are awarded on a proportional basis to
      presidential candidates in the primaries and caucuses.

      Heading into today's contests, Clinton was leading
      Obama, 261 to 196, in total pledged and unpledged
      delegates, according to a tally by the Associated
      Press.

      Democrats use a proportional system to award their
      delegates, with any candidate taking over 15 percent
      in a congressional district qualifying. What that
      system means in practical terms is that unless either
      Obama or Clinton is able to overwhelmingly win a
      congressional district, the two candidates will
      receive the same number of delegates -- ensuring
      neither builds too large a delegate lead.

      To that end, the Clinton campaign announced it would
      participate in three upcoming debates -- Sunday on
      ABC's "This Week with George Stephanoulos," Feb. 27 in
      a CNN-sponsored debate in Ohio, and the next day in
      Houston with MSNBC as host.

      "The campaign believes it's critically important that
      we continue the debates between Senator Obama and
      Senator Clinton," said Clinton lead strategist Mark
      Penn. "We think it's critically important that people
      get to see the candidates face to face."

      On NBC's "Today" show this morning, Obama said: "I
      don't think that today's going to end up being
      decisive, but I think it'll give you a good sense of
      who's connecting with the voters' concerns right now."
      Each candidate has several states that seem almost
      certain to wind up in his or her column. For Clinton,
      that list included her home state of New York as well
      as Arkansas and Oklahoma. For Obama, Illinois and
      Georgia seem very likely wins.

      At issue are a handful of battleground states where
      both campaigns have spent heavily and campaigned over
      the last weeks. Included in that list are: New Jersey,
      Massachusetts, Missouri and Arizona.
      The first polls to close will be in Georgia at 7 p.m.
      Eastern time. Four hours later, California, the last
      of the major states, will conclude its voting.

      Washington Post staff writer Zachary Goldfarb
      contributed to this report

      February 5, 2008; 9:00 PM ET
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