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Clinton Wins in Ohio While Texas Race Remains Tight

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/2008/03/clinton_faces_critical_tests_i.html Clinton Wins in Ohio While Texas Race Remains Tight By Chris Cillizza
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2008
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      http://blog.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/2008/03/clinton_faces_critical_tests_i.html

      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
      process.

      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
      voters.

      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
      final decision.

      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
      farther south.

      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
      delegate" differential.

      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
      Press tally.

      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.
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