Sen. John McCain
seized command of the race for the Republican
presidential nomination early Wednesday, winning
delegate-rich primaries from the East Coast to
California. Democratic rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton
and Barack Obama traded victories in an epic struggle with
no end in sight.
Clinton won the
biggest state, California, in the Democratic campaign,
capitalizing on backing from Hispanic voters. Obama
fashioned victories in Alabama and Georgia, in
part on the strength of African-American support.
victory in the Republican race in the Golden State dealt a
crushing blow to his closest pursuer, former Massachusetts
governor Mitt Romney.
''We've won some
of the biggest states in the country,'' McCain told
cheering supporters at a rally in Phoenix, hours before
California made his Tuesday Super. An underdog for
months, he proclaimed himself the front-runner at
last, and added. ''I don't really mind it one bit.''
nor Obama proclaimed overall victory on a Super Tuesday
that sprawled across 22 states, and with good reason. Obama
won 13 states and Clinton eight plus American Samoa.
But with victories in New York, New Jersey, and
Massachusetts, the former first lady led in the early
tabulation of Super Tuesday delegates.
Missouri was so
close that although Obama won the vote count, it is
likely he and Senator Clinton will evenly split the state's
72 delegates, according to Kansas City's KMBC TV. The
Democratic caucuses in New Mexico remained unsettled,
pending the final count of provisional ballots cast in
''I look forward
to continuing our campaign and our debate about how to
leave this country better off for the next generation,''
said the former first lady, looking ahead to the
primaries and caucuses yet to come.
Obama was in
Chicago, where he told a noisy election night rally: ''Our
time has come. Our movement is real. And change is coming to
interviews with voters suggested subtle shifts in the
For the first
time this year, McCain ran first in a few states among
self-identified Republicans. As usual, he was running
strongly among independents. Romney was getting the
votes of about four in 10 people who described
themselves as conservative. McCain was wining about one
third of that group, and Huckabee about one in five.
was winning only a slight edge among women and white
voters, groups she had won handily in earlier contests,
according to preliminary results from interviews with
voters in 16 states leaving polling places.
collecting the overwhelming majority of votes cast by blacks
-- a factor in victories in Alabama and Georgia.
Clinton's continued strong appeal among Hispanics
-- she was winning nearly six in 10 of their
votes -- was a big factor in her California triumph,
and in her victory in Arizona too.
very early Republican front-runner whose campaign
nearly unraveled six months ago, won in New York, New
Jersey, Connecticut, Missouri, Delaware, and his home
state of Arizona -- each of them winner-take-all
primaries. He also pocketed victories in Oklahoma and
former governor of Arkansas, won a series of Bible Belt
victories, in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee as well as his
own home state. He also triumphed at the Republican
West Virginia convention, and told the Associated
Press in an interview he would campaign on. ''The one
way you can't win a race is to quit it, and until somebody
beats me, I'm going to answer the bell for every round
of this fight,'' he said.
Romney won a home
state victory in Massachusetts. He also took Utah,
where fellow Mormons supported his candidacy. His superior
organization produced caucus victories in North
Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Alaska, and Colorado, and
he too breathed defiance. ''We're going to go all the
way to the convention. We're going to win this thing,'' he
told supporters in Boston.
out a historic struggle between two senators: Clinton,
seeking to become the first female president, and Obama,
hoping to become the first black to win the White
Clinton won at
home in New York as well as in California, Massachusetts,
New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona, and Arkansas,
where she was first lady for more than a decade. She
also won the caucuses in American Samoa.
Connecticut, Georgia, Alabama, Delaware, Utah, and his home
state of Illinois. He prevailed in caucuses in North Dakota,
Minnesota, Kansas, Idaho, Alaska, and Colorado.
After an early
series of low-delegate, single-state contests, Super
Tuesday was anything but small -- its primaries and
caucuses were spread across nearly half the country in
the most wide-open presidential campaign in memory.
The result was a
double-barreled set of races, Obama and Clinton fighting
for delegates as well as bragging rights in individual
states, the Republicans doing the same.
The allocation of
delegates lagged the vote count by hours. That was
particularly true for the Democrats, who divided theirs
proportionally according to the popular vote in
individual congressional districts. By contrast, nine
of the Republican contests were winner-take-all, and that
was where McCain piled up his lead.
competition that thus far has counted the most, the Arizona
senator had accumulated 720 delegates, more than 60% of
the 1,191 needed for the nomination -- and far
ahead of his rivals. Even so, Romney with 256
delegates and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee
with 194 delegates said they were staying in the race
to clinch the presidential nomination at next summer's
convention in St. Paul, Minn.
that, not counting superdelegates, Obama has edged past
Clinton with 838 delegates to her 834; 2,025 delegates are
needed to secure victory at the party convention in
Denver. Clinton's may have an advantage among
superdelegates, members of Congress and other party
leaders who are not selected in primaries and caucuses
-- and who are also free to change their minds.
Georgia gave Obama three straight Southern triumphs. Like
last month's win in South Carolina, they were powered by
Republicans alike said the economy was their most important
issue. Democrats said the war in Iraq ranked second and
health care third. Republican primary voters said
immigration was second most important after the
economy, followed by the war in Iraq.
The survey was
conducted in 16 states by Edison Media Research and
Mitofsky International for the Associated Press and
campaigns were looking ahead to February 9 contests in
Louisiana, Nebraska, and Washington State and February 12
primaries in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of
Columbia. And increasingly, it looked like the
Democrats' historic race between a woman and a black man
would go into early spring, possibly longer.
The de facto
national primary was the culmination of a relentless
campaign that moved into overdrive during Christmas week.
After a brief
rest for the holiday, the candidates flew back to Iowa on
December 26 for a final stretch of campaigning before the
state's caucuses offered the first test of the
election year. New Hampshire's traditional
first-in-the-nation primary followed a few days later, then
a seemingly endless series of campaign days
interspersed by debates and a handful of primaries and
Along the way,
the poorest performers dropped out: among the Democrats,
senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, New Mexico governor Bill
Richardson, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio; among
the Republicans, representatives Duncan Hunter
and Tom Tancredo and former Tennessee senator Fred
John Edwards pulled out of the Democratic race last week,
and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani left the
no endorsement as he exited, instead leaving Obama and
Clinton to vie for help from his fund-raisers and
Giuliani quit the
race and backed McCain in the same breath, clearing the
way for the Westerner in New York and New Jersey.
departure also made it possible for California governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger to back McCain. Schwarzenegger
said he would not have done so as long as the former
mayor was in the race.
Obama and Clinton
spent an estimated $20 million combined to advertise on
television in the February 5 states.
Obama spent $11
million, running ads in 18 of the 22 states with
Democratic contests. Clinton ran ads in 17, for a total of
$9 million. (David Espo, AP)