Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama takes Virginia to stretch winning streak over Clinton

Democrat Barack Obama landed an emphatic victory over Hillary Clinton in Virginia Tuesday, in the first of a trio of Washington-area nominating clashes expected to deal new blows to her White House hopes.
In ominous signs for the Clinton campaign, exit polls showed the 46-year-old Illinois senator surging ahead in the former first lady's normal bastion of women, and splitting another of her key powerbases, white voters.
The Republican presidential nominating race in Virginia, between Senator John McCain, the presumptive nominee, and conservative favorite, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, was deemed too close to call.
Virginia had been seen as Clinton's best shot of halting Obama's winning streak, after Obama swept five weekend contests, on a day which also featured contests in neighboring Maryland and Washington, DC, where polls close at 8 pm (0100 GMT).

Clinton is now desperate to win delegate-rich contests in Ohio and Texas on March 4 to reignite her faltering White House quest, after ousting her campaign manager at the weekend amid growing signs of turmoil in her camp.
Television network exit polls said Obama, vying to become the first black president, extended his appeal among young voters and African-Americans, and split the white vote with Clinton in Virginia.
More striking, exit polls showed that he took the vote among women -- the former first lady's core constituency, by 58 percent to 42 percent in the state.
Among those who put a priority on the economy, Clinton's bread and butter issue, Obama still came out on top 60 to 40 percent.
Those who cared most about the Iraq war went 65 to 35 percent for Obama.
Virginia was the biggest prize up for grabs with 83 Democratic delegates up for grabs. Maryland had 70 on offer, and the US capital, a special federal district, 15.
Clinton gave a flurry of television interviews, looking past what was shaping up as a grim night for her, targeting markets in Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, where Obama is favored, which votes on February 19.

Asked by a Cleveland, Ohio, station whether the midwestern state was a make-or-break encounter for her, Clinton argued she had been written off before.
"I've been down this road before, Before I won New Hampshire, nobody thought I would ... this is a close race, it's a long road to the nomination," she said.
The New York senator was due to hold a rally in Texas on Tuesday night as results from the Washington-area primaries rolled in, while Obama was in Wisconsin.
In one symbolic boost, Clinton snapped up the endorsement of former Ohio senator and astronaut John Glenn.
"She has the strength and experience to take on the Republicans in November and win Ohio and the White House," Glenn said.
Voters in the so-called Potomac Primary, for the river that passes through all three of Tuesday's jurisdictions, reveled in their newfound importance in the presidential race after nominating contests across more than half the country left the two senators in a dead heat.
"It feels a little more that something historical is happening this year," said real estate investor Brian Coulter, 48, at a polling place in Bethesda, Maryland.
Andrea Matney, 39, a special event manager who lives in Bethesda added: "This particular election feels particularly meaningful to me."

Obama led Clinton 1,144 to 1,138 in the running delegate count going into Tuesday's contests, according to website RealClearPolitics.com. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed for the nomination.
The role of some 440 still-undecided super-delegates -- party luminaries who can choose to vote for either candidate -- is now likely to be critical.


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