Clinton and Obama Split Nation

By: Wall Street Journal

McCain, Huckabee Take Key States
New York Senator Wins California; Romney Falters

Democrat Hillary Clinton won victories from East to West in the biggest single day ever in presidential-nominating races, relieving her campaign’s worries about a surge of support for rival Barack Obama. In the Republican race, front-runner John McCain bested chief rival Mitt Romney, with a big assist from long-shot candidate Mike Huckabee, who split the conservative vote with Mr. Romney and snatched key wins to keep it a three-way race.

Sens. Clinton and McCain each took the biggest prize in their respective races — delegate-rich California — holding off late rallies by their rivals. But Sen. Obama and Mr. Romney won’t leave empty-handed when delegates are tallied, because both parties in California allocate delegates based on candidates’ proportion of the votes statewide and by congressional district.

Sen. Obama won some key states of his own. He is likely to claim victories in more states and remain close in the delegates count.

Sen. Obama had entered “Super Tuesday” with momentum as a clutch of national and state polls showed him eroding or even erasing Sen. Clinton’s longtime lead. But she was buoyed by support from women, who make up roughly six of 10 voters in Democrats’ primaries and caucuses.

Speaking to supporters last night, she drew her loudest cheers by noting the symbolic significance of her mother, “who was born before women could vote,” watching her daughter vie for the White House. Sen. Clinton also appeared to maintain her dominance among Latino voters, despite an intensive last-minute push by Sen. Obama and prominent supporters to peel them away.

Arizona’s Sen. McCain, meanwhile, was strongest among independents and moderate Republicans, which left him at a disadvantage in California, where the Republican primary was open only to Republicans. Mr. McCain was racking up delegates in winner-take-all states in the East last night, though he likely remained short of the 1,191 needed for the nomination.

On the Democratic side, the delegate tally was far from clear, given the party’s rules that require states to allocate delegates in proportion to each candidate’s vote statewide and in congressional districts. Adding a further twist, the states’ formulas vary.

The 24 states with contests yesterday covered every region. In 19 states, both parties were holding primaries or caucuses. In three others, Democrats alone were caucusing, and in two more, only Republicans were having caucuses. On a day when recession fears sent the stock market into another swoon, voters in both parties cited the economy as their biggest concern. Among those, Sens. Clinton and McCain took the biggest share.

Democrats in both camps were expecting something of a draw, and braced for weeks of more battling between the two senators. Several races later this month favor Mr. Obama. Already both have started campaigning in Ohio, which has party primaries March 4, in anticipation that the Democratic contest would last at least that long.

For Republicans, the prospect that Mr. McCain could wrap up the nomination had Mr. Romney — allied with a host of conservative talk-show celebrities — intensifying a fight for what the Romney side calls “the heart and soul” of the party.

One encouraging win for Sen. Clinton came in Massachusetts. She was victorious despite Sen. Obama’s high-profile support from Sen. Edward Kennedy and other members of the Kennedy clan. Sen. Obama also won endorsements from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, and the state’s governor, Deval Patrick.

Sen. Clinton won in Arizona, despite Sen. Obama’s support from the top female politician in that state, Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Home-State Wins

Sens. Clinton and Obama easily won their home states of New York and Illinois, respectively. Those states held the second- and third-largest baskets of delegates on the Democratic side. They split the New York neighbors that Sen. Clinton once counted on, with Sen. Obama taking Connecticut and Sen. Clinton winning in New Jersey, which has twice as many delegates.

Sen. Obama won big in Georgia and Alabama, on the strength of his appeal in states with a significant black population. But Sen. Clinton won in another Southern state, Tennessee, which has fewer black voters than others in the region. She also won in her former home state, Arkansas, and in Oklahoma.

In several states that held Democratic caucuses rather than primaries — Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota — Sen. Obama won as expected. The victories rewarded his campaign’s emphasis on the grass-roots organization necessary to get out the vote for caucuses, and his appeal to young volunteers who help staff them. He also won in Utah.

As in January’s early-state contests, turnout appeared to be setting records for primaries and caucuses, especially on the Democratic side. Democrats say the energy and excitement on their side suggests a big advantage looking ahead to the general election in November.

Mr. Romney won in his home state of Massachusetts, where he had been a one-term governor, despite a last-minute visit by Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain pocketed scores more convention delegates with victories in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey — all states that former candidate Rudy Giuliani once banked on winning — and in Delaware. All four states award all delegates to the winner. Sen. McCain also won Illinois, which has a large delegate pool but doesn’t award them all to the winner.

Mr. Huckabee won the state he once governed, Arkansas. He also won Alabama and West Virginia, and was neck-and-neck in Georgia with Messrs. McCain and Romney.

“For the past two days, a lot of people have been trying to say this is a two-man race,” Mr. Huckabee said last night. “Well, you know what? It is. And we’re in it.”

While Mr. Huckabee is given little chance of being nominated, his wins reflected his appeal to fellow evangelical conservatives who made up a big portion of Republican voters in the states he captured.

That frustrated Mr. Romney, who had called on Mr. Huckabee in recent days to quit the race so he could battle Sen. McCain one-on-one in a conservative-vs.-moderate showdown. Mr. Romney, despite a socially liberal record in Massachusetts, has tried to establish himself as the conservative most in the Ronald Reagan mold, and hoped for a two-man race against Mr. McCain, who is anathema to many conservative Republicans for his moderate and maverick record.

The bitterness of the Romney-McCain fight grew in recent days, as Mr. Romney intensified his attacks amid a perception of Mr. McCain as the inevitable nominee. That has potential longer-term ramifications for their already splintered party beyond the nomination fight. On Mr. Romney’s side are some of the best-known conservative talk-show hosts in the nation, including Rush Limbaugh. In recent days they have aired increasingly personal attacks against Mr. McCain, even threatening not to vote if he becomes the nominee.

Many Republican strategists and leaders nationwide expected Mr. McCain to become the party’s presumptive nominee by the time delegates are tallied. Especially if the Democrats’ fight drags on into March or April, the early Republican decision normally would mean a big advantage for Mr. McCain. He could effectively turn his attention toward the November election and move to the political center to attract independents’ votes.

Instead, yesterday’s blistering back-and-forth between Mr. McCain on the one side and Mr. Romney and his broadcast allies on the other indicated that the Arizona senator — should he become the nominee — will have to spend time repairing relations with conservatives.

The Republican fires were stoked further with the results from the state nominating contest in West Virginia. State Republicans, at a midday convention, voted on a second ballot to award most of their 30 delegates to Mr. Huckabee — provoking cries of foul from Romney forces.

Mr. Romney had won the first West Virginia vote, but fell short of the necessary majority. On the next ballot, McCain supporters defected to Mr. Huckabee to deny victory to Mr. Romney. The Romney campaign accused Sen. McCain of “a backroom deal” typical of Washington insiders, in keeping with former Mr. Romney’s positioning of himself as an outsider who will change politics in the capital.

Meanwhile, Mr. Romney’s broadcast allies stepped up their air war against Sen. McCain. Mr. Limbaugh, on his nationally syndicated show yesterday, condemned the senator for a “disgraceful” and “dirty little trick” in releasing what the host said was a private letter to him from Robert Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee. In the letter, Mr. Dole invoked Mr. McCain’s years as a Vietnam prisoner of war and vouched for Mr. McCain’s conservatism. “Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support,” Mr. Dole wrote Mr. Limbaugh. “Two terms for the Clintons are enough.”

Dole’s Letter

Earlier, Mr. Romney had said on the Fox network that Mr. Dole is “probably the last person I would have wanted to write a letter for me,” and he suggested Mr. McCain’s nomination would be as unsuccessful for the party as Mr. Dole’s was in 1996, against then-President Bill Clinton. In turn, Mr. McCain demanded Mr. Romney apologize to Mr. Dole, Mr. Romney sought to clarify his remark, and Mr. Limbaugh then came to Mr. Romney’s defense.

Separately, anti-McCain broadcaster Laura Ingraham, on her radio show yesterday, read a statement from influential conservative evangelist James Dobson. Mr. Dobson ticked off where he believed Mr. McCain had compromised with Democrats on social and economic issues, and concluded, “I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.”

McCain advisers, and the many Republican establishment figures who have endorsed Mr. McCain since his string of primary victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, contend that conservatives would vote for him in November rather than see a Democrat, particularly Sen. Clinton, take the White House.

Among Republican voters, the biggest divides were among ideological lines, according to exit polls in 16 states. Sen. McCain did best among those who called themselves moderates and liberals, while Mr. Romney generally drew more voters among those who called themselves conservative or very conservative.

On the Democratic side, exit polls in key states showed the racial, gender and generational divisions between the two senators’ supporters that were evident in the early state contests last month. Yesterday, however, more states with significant populations of Latino voters were up for grabs, and Sen. Clinton seemed to dominate among those voters — despite a strong effort from Sen. Obama, with an assist from Sen. Kennedy, who is popular among Hispanic voters.

Women’s Vote

Sen. Clinton also enjoyed a strong majority of the vote among white women. Sen. Obama continued to get wide majorities of the African-American vote, and majorities of voters under 40. Sen. Clinton drew support, as usual, from voters older than 60.

Sen. Obama entered the coast-to-coast Super Tuesday campaign with momentum from his landslide victory in South Carolina’s primary late last month. Especially compared with the Republicans, the arguments between him and Sen. Clinton were toned down after the divisive, heated rhetoric of South Carolina.

Their scars didn’t seem to carry over to Democratic voters. In California, three-quarters of voters said they would be satisfied with either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama as the nominee. Exit polls did suggest that more Democratic voters blame Sen. Clinton for the recent negativism than they blame Sen. Obama.

Write to Jackie Calmes at

* Content From the Wall Street Journal supplied by Elva Ramirez:
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