Clinton Wins in Ohio While Texas Race Remains Tight
By Chris Cillizza
washingtonpost.com staff writer
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Sen. Barack Obama
in Ohio today, a crucial win in a swing state. The two
Democrats remained locked in a tight race in Texas.
With more than half of the precincts reporting in
Ohio, Clinton led Obama 57 percent to 41 percent. The
vote had not yet been reported in Cuyahoga County
(Cleveland), a heavily African American area expected
to strongly favor Obama.
The Texas contest was extremely close. With about a
third of precincts reporting, Clinton held a
sliver-thin one point lead over Obama.
Each Democrat claimed a victory earlier in the night.
Obama won Vermont handily and Clinton responded in
kind in Rhode Island.
Controversy arose in Texas over the caucuses -- slated
to begin as soon as the primary voting ended in the
Lone Star State. The Clinton campaign held an
emergency conference call just before 9 p.m. Eastern
time to present allegations of widespread
irregularities in the caucus process.
Lyn Utrecht, an attorney for the Clinton campaign,
said "hundreds of complaints" had been registered --
the most serious of which, she said, involved Clinton
backers being locked out of caucus sites by Obama
supporters. Utrecht called the action "one of the most
disturbing things" she has seen in the election
Obama attorney Bob Bauer crashed the Clinton call,
asking: "I'm curious to know how this is any different
than the series of complaints you've registered
against every caucus that you lose?"
In a church parking lot in McAllen, Tex., hundreds
were waiting for voting to end so they could caucus.
Alonzo Cantu, a major Texas fundraiser for Clinton,
said the scene had turned into an impromptu block
party, and the group had decided to caucus under the
stars. "And the stars are saying Hillary's going to
win!" Cantu laughed. "It's going to be her night."
Clinton's campaign has made no secret that it would be
next to impossible to continue the race without strong
showings in Ohio and Texas, and there were signs in
the run-up to today's votes that Clinton's aggressive
attacks on Obama's trade policies and experience as a
government leader were having some effect.
Former president Bill Clinton publicly acknowledged
recently that his wife would have to win the two large
states to remain viable and move on to the
Pennsylvania primary in late April. "If she wins Texas
and Ohio I think she will be the nominee," the former
president said in a speech in Beaumont, Tex. "If you
don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be. It's
all on you."
The exit polling conducted in Ohio showed Clinton
regaining her edge among female voters -- especially
white women. Among all women, Clinton held a 54
percent to 45 percent margin over Obama in Ohio; among
white women, that margin was far more pronounced, with
Clinton taking these voters by a 2-to-1 margin.
Clinton also held wide margins over Obama among voters
65 and older, voters living in rural areas and small
cities and those who cited a candidate's experience as
the key element in deciding their vote.
Obama, again, carried the black vote in Ohio by a
9-to-1 margin. The Illinois senator also ran extremely
strong among voters under 30, those with college
degrees and those who cited a candidate's ability to
bring about change as the key characteristic in making
up their minds.
On issues, the economy was the top concern of nearly
six in 10 of those voters participating in the Ohio
Democratic primary. Among that bloc, Clinton took 52
percent to Obama's 47 percent. The war in Iraq was the
top issue of roughly one in five Ohio voters, with
Obama at 53 percent and Clinton 47 percent among those
Preliminary exit polling in Texas suggests an
electorate motivated by a desire for change but with
deep concerns regarding the economy.
More than four in 10 of participants in the Texas
Democratic primary cited a candidate's ability to
bring about change as the motivating factor in their
Roughly half of the Texas Democratic primary
electorate said the economy was the most pressing
issue facing the country, dwarfing the number who
named either the war in Iraq or health care.
In Vermont, by contrast, the war rivaled the economy
as the main concern of voters -- the first time the
war has scored so high since the New Hampshire primary
way back on Jan. 8.
Officials in Ohio and Texas predicted that turnout
would break records for primary voting -- in keeping
with the trend throughout the Democratic nomination
fight. But weather was a factor in Ohio, with freezing
rain and even some snow falling in the northern part
of the state and flood warnings issued for areas
Obama's strategists predicted that the Illinois
senator would have another good day at the polls, but
noted that even if Hillary Clinton were able to pull
out victories, she still would have little chance of
overtaking Obama in the race for committed delegates
before the nomination season ends in early June.
"The Clinton campaign has consistently and repeatedly
said they view the race as a race for delegates,"
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said yesterday.
"We agree with that." He added that Ohio and Texas
represent "the last big window of opportunity for [the
Clinton campaign] to erase what is a very serious
Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said today
that he and others on the campaign felt "bullish"
about its chances today but would not speculate about
whether the New York senator would sweep Ohio and
Texas. "We believe tomorrow we will have a very strong
case to make to Democratic primary voters in upcoming
states," Wolfson offered.
Obama began the day with a total of 1,386 pledged
delegates and unpledged superdelegates, compared with
Clinton's total of 1,276, according to an Associated
Washington Post staff writers Shailagh Murray, Matthew
Mosk and William Branigin, research editor Alice R.
Crites, polling director Jon M. Cohen and polling
analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.