Obama wins Neb., Wash. state
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 16 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama won caucuses in
Nebraska and Washington state and battled Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton in the Louisiana primary Saturday night
in a bid to chip away at her slender delegate lead in
their historic race for the Democratic presidential
Obama was winning nearly 70 percent support in
Nebraska, compared with 31 percent for Clinton, in
caucuses with 24 delegates at stake.
He also had 67 percent support in Washington state
caucuses, compared with 32 percent for Clinton with
returns tallied from about one-half of the state's
precincts. There were 78 delegates at stake, the
largest single prize of the night.
The Democratic race moved into a new, post-Super
Tuesday phase as Sen. John McCain flunked his first
ballot test since becoming the Republican
nominee-in-waiting. He lost Kansas caucuses to Mike
Huckabee, gaining less than 24 percent of the vote.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, got nearly 60
percent of the vote a few hours after telling
conservatives in Washington, "I majored in miracles,
and I still believe in them." He won all 36 delegates
For all his brave talk, Huckabee was hopelessly behind
in the delegate race. McCain had 719, compared with
234 for Huckabee and 14 for Texas Rep. Ron Paul. It
takes 1,191 to win the nomination at the national
The Democrats' race was as close as the Republicans'
Clinton began the day with a slender delegate lead in
The Associated Press count. She had 1,055 delegates to
998 for Obama. A total of 2,025 is required to win the
nomination at the national convention in Denver.
Preliminary results of a survey of voters leaving
their polling places in Louisiana showed that nearly
half of those casting ballots were black. As a group,
African-Americans have overwhelmingly favored Obama in
earlier primaries, helping him to wins in South
Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
One in seven Democratic voters and about one in 10
Republicans said Hurricane Katrina had caused their
families severe hardship from which they have not
recovered. There was another indication of the impact
the storm had on the state. Early results suggested
that northern Louisiana accounted for a larger share
of the electorate than in the past, presumably the
result of the decline of population in the
hurricane-battered New Orleans area.
McCain cleared his path to the party nomination
earlier in the week with a string of Super Tuesday
victories that drove former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney from the race. He spent the rest of the week
trying to reassure skeptical conservatives, at the
same time party leaders quickly closed ranks behind
His Kansas defeat aside, McCain also suffered a
symbolic defeat when Romney edged him out in a straw
poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference
meeting across town from the White House.
The day's contests opened a new phase in the
Democratic race between Clinton, attempting to become
the first woman in the White House, and Obama, hoping
to become the first black.
The Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in 22
states, which once looked likely to effectively settle
the race, instead produced a near-equal delegate
That left Obama and Clinton facing the likelihood of a
grind-it-out competition lasting into spring if not
to the summer convention itself.
With the night's events, 29 of the 50 states have
Two more Michigan and Florida held renegade
primaries and the Democratic National Committee has
vowed not to seat any delegates chosen at either of
Maine, with 24 delegates, holds caucuses on Sunday.
Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and
voting by Americans overseas are next, on Tuesday,
with 175 combined.
Then follows a brief intermission, followed by a
string of election nights, some crowded, some not.
The date of March 4 looms large, 370 delegates in
primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Mississippi is alone in holding a primary one week
later, with a relatively small 33 delegates at stake.
Puerto Rico anchors the Democratic calendar, with 55
delegates chosen in caucuses on June 7.
People were turned away from a University of Maine
student center Saturday morning as Clinton spoke to a
capacity crowd of about 1,750 people. She urged
supporters to participate in Sunday's caucuses.
"This is your chance to be part of helping Maine pick
a president," she said. "So I hope even if you've
never, ever caucused before, tomorrow will be your
first time ... because there is so much at stake in
Obama, also campaigning in Maine, looked ahead to the
general election, criticizing Republican McCain
without mentioning his Democratic rival.
McCain initially "stood up to George Bush and opposed
his first cuts," Obama said at Nicky's Diner in
Bangor. Now the GOP senator is calling for continuing
those tax cuts, which grant significant breaks to
high-income taxpayers, "in his rush to embrace the
worst of the Bush legacy."
If Super Tuesday failed to settle the campaign, it
produced a remarkable surge in fundraising.
Obama's aides announced he had raised more than $7
million on line in the two days that followed.
Clinton disclosed she had loaned her campaign $5
million late last month in an attempt to counter her
rival's Super Tuesday television advertising. She
raised more than $6 million in the two days after the
busiest night in primary history.
The television ad wars continued unabated.
Obama has been airing commercials for more than a week
in television markets serving every state that has a
contest though Feb 19.
Clinton began airing ads midweek in Washington state,
Maine and Nebraska, and added Maryland, Virginia and
the District of Columbia on Friday.
The exit poll was conducted by Edison Media Research
and Mitofsky International for The Associated Press
and the television networks.