Obama Handily Wins in 3 States

A crowd of nearly 1,000 people greeted former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee today at the University of Maryland. Video by: Pierre Kattar/washingtonpost.com
By Michael D. Shear and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama dominated Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in presidential balloting in Nebraska, Louisiana and Washington state last night, besting her by huge margins in those contests and further narrowing her slender advantage in delegates needed to claim the Democratic presidential nomination.

In the Republican race, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was the vehicle for a conservative rebuke of the idea that his rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), had sewn up the nomination. Huckabee defeated McCain in Kansas, and the two were in tight races in Washington state and Louisiana.

With all Kansas precincts reporting, Huckabee won 60 percent of the vote, well ahead of McCain's 24 percent and Texas congressman Ron Paul's 11 percent. In Louisiana, Huckabee barely edged McCain for a second win, while in the Washington caucuses, Huckabee and McCain were in a tight race, with more than 80 percent of the results in.

"We both made our case, and ours seemed to sell pretty well," Huckabee told reporters last night. "While people in Washington and insiders continue to maybe gravitate to the senator's campaign, people across America are gravitating to our campaign and realizing there is a choice."

Although he has a huge lead in delegates won over Huckabee, McCain continued to struggle among evangelicals and "values voters." In Louisiana, Huckabee was preferred by 3 to 1 among voters who said it was important for the candidates to share their values, according to early exit polls there. Those voters accounted for half of all Republicans who went to the polls in the state.

Among Democrats, Obama (Ill.) won more than two-thirds of the vote in both Nebraska and Washington, and his lopsided victories gave a boost to his state-by-state strategy of methodically picking up delegates, while highlighting Clinton's struggles in caucuses. Clinton (N.Y.) is focusing her campaign on big states with dense population centers, several of which are scheduled to vote March 4.

Not including delegates awarded in Louisiana, Clinton led the overall hunt with 1,084 delegates to 1,057 for Obama. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to win the Democratic nomination, and her advantage is largely a result of her edge among "superdelegates," a group made up largely of party and elected officials who make decisions about who to support independent of the primary or caucus results in their states.

"We won in Louisiana, we won in Nebraska, we won in Washington state," Obama told a roaring crowd at a Democratic fundraising dinner in Richmond last night. "We won north, we won south, we won in between. And I believe that we can win Virginia on Tuesday if you're ready to stand for change."

Obama's trio of victories suggests that the contest is likely to continue with the candidates running neck and neck for weeks and possibly months, and that it may not be decided until the Democratic National Convention in late August.

Some of the most striking results in the Democratic race came in Louisiana, where early exit polls conducted by the Associated Press showed a stark racial divide between the two candidates. Among white Democrats who said race was an issue for them, 90 percent said they voted for Clinton, while 90 percent of black voters who cited race as an issue said they voted for Obama.

About 45 percent of registered Democrats in Louisiana are African American. About one in five voters said race was important, while gender was important to about as many. There was less of a gender gap in Louisiana than in some earlier contests: Men and women voted about evenly, and Clinton won the most white men.

Clinton campaign officials did not even attempt to assert that it had been a good day for their candidate, but they announced that Clinton had raised $10 million from 100,000 donors since Super Tuesday.

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