Super Tuesday: Race Turns to Delegate Battle, Obama Surprises

GOP results, via CNN:


- JH 10:57 PST


A good summary round-up of the victories and delegate battles from Super Tuesday by Jim Kuhnhenn from the AP.

Hillary Rodham Clinton captured needed states Tuesday night even as Barack Obama ate into her traditional base of support on a topsy-turvy night where a ballot victory was not the only measure of success.

The grand spectacle of Super Tuesday's coast-to-coast nominating contests marked a turning point in the Democratic presidential contest from euphoric election night victories to painstaking delegate counting.

In early results, Hillary Rodham Clinton won primaries in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Barack Obama was the victor in Georgia, Delaware, Alabama and Illinois and the North Dakota caucus. Altogether, 22 states were in play but neither candidate was to emerge with enough delegates to secure the nomination.

Obama had secured 43 delegates in early voting Tuesday, while Clinton had 32, though that did not include all the states where outcomes had been declared.

Preliminary exit polls of voters in primary states showed Obama encroaching on Clinton's voting base. Clinton had only a slight edge among women and with whites, two areas where she has generally dominated Obama. Clinton was getting strong support from Hispanics, an increasingly important voting bloc. But Obama led among men _ including white men, a group with whom he has struggled for votes in most previous contests.

Those results augured well for Obama in contests in coming weeks.

The campaigns, like sports teams that have clinched a playoff spot, already have been preparing for the matches ahead. Obama has been advertising in states with primaries and caucuses over the next seven days. Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, all of which hold primaries on Feb. 12, play to Obama's strengths with black voters and upscale, educated voters.

Clinton strategists are looking over the horizon into March and April when Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania hold primaries.

Time could work against Clinton, however. Obama raised $32 million to her $13.5 million in January _ a financial edge that will help him organize and advertise in the upcoming battlegrounds. On Tuesday, her campaign called for four debates between now and March 4, a sign that she wants to supplement her financial disadvantage with free media.

After a month of early contests _ from Iowa to New Hampshire to Nevada to South Carolina _ the two candidates have essentially divided the electorate into two component parts. He gets young voters, educated voters, black voters. She gets women, working-class voters and Hispanics.

Both candidates have worked hard to win over supporters of John Edwards, who dropped out of the presidential race last Wednesday after a third-place finish in South Carolina. They've spent a combined $20 million on advertising in Super Tuesday states. And whoever cuts into the other's base will gain an advantage.

Obama seemed to benefit from Edwards' departure, expanding his support among white voters from one in four in the South Carolina primary to better than two out of five in Georgia. "She has ceiling issues, and the people who aren't for her we think are very available to us," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters Tuesday.

But Clinton had reason to cheer as well. She beat Obama in Massachusetts despite Obama's strength among highly educated voters and opponents of the war and high-profile endorsements from the state's political power troika _ U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy, John Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick.

A new direction for the country seemed to be on the minds of Democratic voters. Half of them said they favored a candidate who could cause needed change and seven out of 10 of them voted for Obama. About one-fifth of voters preferred a candidate with experience and Clinton won nearly all of them.

As usual, Obama had a decisive lead with blacks, with about eight in 10 favoring him, the early national figures showed. But Clinton was getting support from nearly six in 10 Hispanics, a group that could be pivotal in states such as California.

The two candidates, each a U.S. senator, won their home states on Tuesday _ Obama in Illinois, Clinton in New York. The 22 states holding contests, as well as American Samoa, offer 1,681 Democratic delegates. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination. California is the day's biggest prize, with 370 delegates at stake.

With voting under way, Clinton led Obama in the hunt for delegates, 261 to 202, on the strength of so-called superdelegates. Those are members of Congress and other party leaders not chosen in state presidential contests.

Clinton aides said Tuesday that Obama might win more delegates on Tuesday than Clinton, but that she would emerge from the voting with more delegates overall.

Democrats award delegates proportionally in every state. That means the second-place finisher who gets at least 15 percent of the vote also will win delegates. Indeed, even if a candidate wins the popular vote in a state by a wide margin, the edge on delegates could be significantly smaller.

Obama entered Super Tuesday propelled by a solid victory in South Carolina on Jan. 26, Kennedy's endorsement, and a banner fundraising month in January. Both sides have downplayed Super Tuesday expectations. The Clinton camp has pointed to his rise in the polls; Obama's campaign has cited her longtime strength and name recognition in several of the contested states.

But it's the long term that matters.

"They're both going to get a chance to recover if they lose something and get a chance to consolidate if they keep winning," California-based Democratic strategist Bill Carrick said. "The delegate count is going to be so close that this is going to go on for a while."

-JF 10:18 PST



Dem3 Dem4

-JH 10:17 PST


NPR calling Idaho for Obama.

- JH 8:23 PST


NPR calling CO for Obama.

- JH 8:13 PST


McCain takes his home state of Arizona. Right now Clinton has 160 pledged delegates to Obama's 128 and with the Minnesota win, Obama appears to be gaining.

-AH 8:00 PST


Huckabee wins Georgia, cleaning up big time in the South. Just saw Lieberman on NBC weighing in Obama's surprise win in his home state. Speaking of Lieberman:

Lieberman in exit polls:

70% favorable
27% unfavorable

32% favorable
66% unfavorable

-AH 7:36 PST


CNN calls:

NJ: Clinton, 54-44 (63%)
MN: Obama, 64-34 (25%)

- JH 7:39 PST


Here's the latest from CNN: Obama racks up big surprise win in Connecticut, as well as victories in Kansas (his birth state), Utah and North Dakota. Think Obama can't win white voters now?

-AH 7:26 PST


MSNBC predicts a 6th victory for McCain tonight--Oklahoma

On MSNBC, despite Chris Matthews' attempts to suggest Obama has to win a non-southern state for this to be a good night for him (neglecting the fact that he already has, Delaware), Rachel Maddow says that she thinks this will turn out to be more or less a Democratic tie at the end of the night. Oddly enough, Pat Buchanan seconded that notion and reflected on the GOP race saying simply, "John McCain has not sealed the deal." Joe Scarborough went further and said of McCain, "He's a regional candidate in the bluest of blue states".

My sense is that both races seem to reflect the fact that McCain/Huckabee and Clinton/Obama would compliment each other nicely in terms of demographics if they joined forces. Not that I WANT that. But it seems like a fairly obvious conclusion to draw. Huckabee seems to me to be essentially openly campaigning to be McCain's VP and despite his southern victories he may gain too few delegates to hope to be anything more. That said if Romney is knocked out and the race comes down to Huckabee and McCain, I'm very curious to see if Huck tries to go negative on him.

-AH 6:53 PST


CNN calls:

Alabama: Obama, 63-35 (35% reporting)
Delaware: Obama, 53-43 (92%)
NY: Clinton, 62-36 (5%)
Tennessee: Clinton, 60-31 (30%)
Arkansas: Clinton, 72-23 (6%)
Illinois: Obama, 65-33 (18%)
Oklahoma: Clinton, 55-30 (58%)
GA: Obama, 65-37 (55%)

MSNBC is obsessed with Obama's "Latino problem" noting that he only won 52% of Illinois Latinos. It's annoying -- Obama's made major gains among whites and women, and Clinton's 61% of the Latino vote is better than some had expected.

- JH 6:39 PST


MSNBC reports: Obama wins Alabama.

-AH 6:26 PST


MSNBC reports: New Jersey goes to Hillary and New York to McCain...

-AH 6:22 PST


Lots of projections from MSNBC:

Obama wins Delaware, Hillary wins New York and Massachusetts

McCain wins Delaware, Huckabee wins Alabama

Although the Massachusetts victory for Clinton is definitely a blow to Obama's hopes he should feel good about how the delegates should break down. Click here to read more about the advantage he has there.

Also, MSNBC reports women are breaking down 51% for Hillary and 45% for Obama, definitely an improvement for him. Among men, Obama led by 11%, 53% to 42%. Obama has captured 80% of the black vote, while the white vote is going 51%-44% in favor of Clinton, again a significant improvement for Obama.

-AH 6:06 PST


Just a couple random observations. Watching MSNBC and Bill Richardson's gonna be interviewed after the commercial break and he's grown what appears to be a "devil beard". Not becoming in my opinion and I don't think that'll help make him a lock for VP. Maybe he wants to just cover up the double chin? Weird. Also, Olbermann and that tool Chuck Todd were pointing out that despite large wins in Tennessee and Oklahoma, Clinton may only collect 7 or 8 more delegates than Obama in both state when the dust is settled.

-AH 5:50 PST


Bowers has the first exit poll estimates for the states with polls closing at 8 PM EST. These are bound to change:

AL: Obama 54-41 Clinton
CT: Obama 53--46 Clinton
DE: Obama 49-44 Clinton
IL: Obama 68-30 Clinton
MA: Obama 49-48 Clinton
MO: Clinton 47-45 Obama
NJ: Clinton 49-49 Obama
OK: Clinton 58--33 Obama
TN: Clinton 51-40 0bama.

- JH 5:33 PST


CNN: Hillary and Huckabee win their home state of Arkansas (she the former first lady of the state, he the former governor). Again, there's yet to be any major surprises tonight except for maybe the somewhat stronger than expected showing Huckabee has consistently been having. So far, so bad for Mitt Romney.

-AH 5:32 PST


In the Democratic race with no more than 0-1 percent reporting, Tennessee is being called for Clinton after first being deemed to close to call and Alabama is considered too early to call.

-AH 5:16 PST


MSNBC, CNN and others are projecting several states:

For the Democrats: Connecticut and NJ are too close to call. Obama, as expected, won his home state of Illinois and Hillary Clinton is projected to win Oklahoma.

On the GOP side: McCain has won Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois. Meanwhile, Romney has won Massachusetts, not too surprising since he's the former governor of the state.

-AH 5:04 PST


Obama has reportedly won 43 percent of the white vote in Georgia, a significant improvement over his performance with whites in both Florida and South Carolina.

-AH 4:40 PST


According to CNN's exit polling, McCain's getting less than 50 percent of self-identified "conservatives" nationwide. Romney's running strong in several states, and if early and unconfirmed exit polls are right, the GOP race may still be wide open.

- JH 4:33 PST


CNN has called Georgia for Obama. Unverified exit polls had him up 75-25.

Did you vote today? If so, what was the scene like at your polling place? Let us know in the comments.

- JH 4:07 PST


Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee edged out Mitt Romney, 52-47 in West Virginia. WVA Republicans use a convention syste,, and according to Marc Ambinder, John McCain played a roll in the outcome:

"After the first round of balloting in West Virginia, Mitt Romney was solidly in the lead with 41% of the votes, followed by Mike Huckabee with 33% and John McCain with 16%.

"Since 50% is needed to win all 18 delegates, a second balloting is underway.

"But sources say that representatives for John McCain called many of his reps in WV and asked them to vote for order to thwart Romney on the second ballot."

- JH 3:56 PST



* Looks like another large turn-out.

* The National Review's got some GOP exit polls. They should be taken with a large grain of salt, but they suggest that McCain's not doing quite as well as expected.

* Josh Marshall and Jonathan Singer have some numbers from Dem exit polls, which also need to be viewed with caution (these are numbers flying around on various list-servs).

* Georgia's new voter ID laws are causing long lines in Atlanta.

* Remember Florida's "butterfly ballots"? Well California's undeclared voters, who are eligible to vote in the Dem but not the GOP primary, are having a lot of trouble with "bubble ballots."

* Chris Bowers looks at the delegate race.

* Ed Kilgore takes a moment to ponder what a brokered convention might look like. His conclusion: chaos.

-JH 3:40 PST

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