Split decision for Clinton, Obama; McCain takes major states handily / She wins California; Romney presses on despite tepid national showing

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Times Staff Writer

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama dueled to a Super Tuesday draw, capturing states big and small and padding their delegate counts in a Democratic contest that remains highly competitive after the biggest day of balloting in presidential primary history.

Obama won 12 of 22 states -- but not California, the day’s most coveted prize. Clinton’s victory there was powered by overwhelming support from Latinos, who made up nearly 30% of California voters.

Clinton won big in the Northeast: her home state of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. She also carried Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, American Samoa and Arkansas, where she was first lady when her husband was governor.


Obama ran strongly in the Midwest, capturing his home state of Illinois and Minnesota, North Dakota and Kansas. He also won Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Georgia and Utah.

Obama was leading in Missouri, but the state, along with New Mexico, was too close to call.

Under rules that award nominating delegates on a proportional basis, both candidates boosted their totals enough to claim victory, and the race seemed no more settled than it had been 24 hours earlier. The Democrats now move on to contests Saturday in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington state, Sunday in Maine, and Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Beyond that, both sides foresee a protracted battle extending into March and perhaps much longer.

Speaking in soft, even tones -- possibly to spare her strained vocal cords -- Clinton acknowledged Tuesday night that the results were far from decisive. “I want to congratulate Sen. Obama for his victory tonight, and I look forward to continuing our campaign and our debates about how to leave this country better off for the next generation,” Clinton told an ebullient crowd packed into a ballroom in Midtown Manhattan.

Obama returned the favor in an election-night appearance in Chicago, congratulating Clinton on her performance and praising her for “running an outstanding campaign.”


But, he went on, “we have to choose between change and more of the same. We have to choose between looking backward and looking forward. We have to choose between our future and our past.”

Tuesday was a day that made campaign history, and not just because a woman and an African American were running stride-for-stride in the most competitive Democratic race in decades.

Democrats, and some independents, went to the polls in the biggest single primary day ever; balloting began while most on the West Coast were still sleeping and moved across several times zones, ending when many on the East Coast had turned out the lights.

At stake were 1,681 pledged delegates, or nearly three-quarters of the total needed to secure the Democratic nomination. Clinton won 471 delegates Tuesday to Obama’s 437 in incomplete results, according to the Associated Press, giving her 732 delegates to Obama’s 639.

The vote Tuesday showed Obama broadening his coalition while Clinton continued to show strength among Latinos and among voters worried about the economy.

He received the support of more than 4 in 10 women and about the same number of whites, according to exit polls conducted in 16 states for television networks and the Associated Press. That was a marked improvement from earlier contests. Obama also ran strong among voters younger than 44 and won the backing of about 8 in 10 African Americans, matching his earlier performance.


Clinton won support from about 6 in 10 Latinos and also led among voters most concerned about the economy, who made up half of the Democrats voting Tuesday. Obama led among those most concerned about Iraq, who made up about 3 in 10 voters surveyed.

About half of Democrats polled across the country said they wanted a candidate who would change things, and Obama won about 7 in 10 of their votes. About a quarter preferred experience, and Clinton won overwhelmingly among those voters, as she has throughout the campaign.

There was something else familiar Tuesday. From sunny Southern California to blustery Chicago to rainy New York City, Americans once more took to the polls in huge numbers.

In Brooklyn, voters of assorted ethnic backgrounds -- white, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, African American, Chinese -- hobbled on canes, carried backpacks, pushed children in strollers or stopped by on their lunch break, some still in uniform.

Lisa Paten, 39, took the day off work and skipped the New York Giants’ Super Bowl parade to volunteer for Obama’s campaign, standing on a sidewalk in front of an elementary school polling center exhorting passersby to vote for the senator from Illinois. “It’s difficult because you want to celebrate,” she said of the Giants’ upset win, “but today is important. I want to be a part of history.”

In Atlanta, Kimberley Griffieth said she was convinced that Clinton’s years in Washington -- especially as first lady -- made her best-qualified to lead the country. “Hillary has been president before,” said Griffieth, 42, as she headed to vote in Atlanta. “She’s familiar with the process. I believe she’s going to go in and get us out of this hot mess with the war and the economy.”


Many agonized over their decision until the moment they stepped into the voting booth. Steve Dunn, 75, a retired aircraft mechanic who voted in Pacoima, summed up the sentiments of many Democrats. “Almost a flip of the coin,” said Dunn, who opted for Obama.

After spending months parked in Iowa and New Hampshire, the candidates resorted over the last 10 days to a form of drive-by campaigning: a rally, a news conference, a wave and then back on the plane for the next stop. Clinton and Obama spent prodigiously on TV advertising, the only way to communicate over such a vast expanse in such a short period of time. And they generated all the free publicity they could muster, Obama getting the better of that competition by rolling out endorsements from, among others, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and California First Lady Maria Shriver (though Kennedy could not deliver his home state).

Clinton relied on high-profile volunteers to broaden her reach, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; her daughter, Chelsea; and her surrogate in chief, former President Clinton, who took a humbler approach than the combative stance he struck during the contest in South Carolina. “I’m not against anybody,” he told a black church audience in Los Angeles. “I’m just for her.”

Even before the first polls closed, the two sides worked to diminish expectations -- the better to trumpet their achievements when the pundits and political analysts began parsing the results.

In a conference call with reporters, Clinton strategists predicted the race would continue through March and possibly all the way until the Democratic National Convention in Colorado in August; many, including Clinton herself, once predicted an end to the nominating fight Tuesday. “This is another very large step, but just another step on the road to Denver,” said Howard Wolfson, Clinton’s communications director.

In a sign of possible nervousness, the Clinton camp said the senator had agreed to several debates over the next few weeks and urged Obama to join her. Mark Penn, a Clinton campaign advisor, denied that she was worried about her standing in the race, though usually it is a trailing candidate who seeks more debates. “Up, down or sideways, we have been vigorous and willing participants in debates,” he said.


Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters Obama would definitely debate his rival again, “but our schedule is not going to be dictated by the Clinton campaign.”

The voting was marked by a certain amount of confusion typical of election day.

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, had to wait 45 minutes to cast his ballot while a touch-screen machine was fixed at his Hoboken polling place. In Georgia, there were reports of long backups as the state imposed new voter ID requirements. In California, there were snafus involving independent voters. They are allowed to participate in the Democratic, but not the GOP, primary, but some had difficulty with the ballot.

In Missouri, voting in rural Christian County was disrupted when tornado warning sirens ran out and five polling places temporarily shut down. “Most of them were locations in churches with storm shelters,” said country Clerk Kay Brown. “So I told them, ‘Take the voters and run for your lives. And whatever you do, secure those ballots!’ ”



Times staff writers Erika Hayasaki, Tiffany Hsu, P.J. Huffstutter, Jenny Jarvie, Maria L. La Ganga and Peter Nicholas contributed to this report.



Upcoming primaries and caucuses

(D) Democrats (R) Republicans

*--* February Primary/Caucuses May Primary/Caucuses 9 Kansas (R) C 6 Indiana (D, R) P Louisiana (D, R) P 13 Nebraska P (D,R) Nebraska (D*) C West Virginia P (D) Washington (D*, C 20 Kentucky (D, P R**) R) 10 Maine 9 (D) C Oregon (D,R) P 12 Dist. of P 27 Idaho (R) P Columbia (D,R) -- June P Maryland (D,R) P 3 Montana (D) P Virginia (D,R) P New Mexico (R) P 19 Hawaii (D C South Dakota P ***) (D, R) Washington (D,R) P August 25-28 Wisconsin (D,R) P Democratic National March -- Convention in Denver 4 Ohio (D,R) P September 1-4 Rhode Island P Republican (D,R) National Texas (D,R) P Convention in Vermont (D,R) P Minneapolis-St. Paul, 8 Wyoming C Minn. 11 Mississippi P (D, R) April -- 22 Pennsylvania P (D, R) --- *--*


* Democratic party will base 100% of its delegate selection on Feb. 9 caucuses.

** GOP will select 49% of delegates at caucuses; remaining 51% will be allocated based on primary results Feb. 19.

*** District-level delegates will be chosen during the state convention; Hawaii’s GOP will hold its state convention on May 16-18 and Democrats May 23-25.


Sources: National Association of Secretaries of State;; state government information. Graphics reporting by Nona Yates



Cumulative totals, including partial results from Tuesday





Associated Press projections at 11:45 p.m. Needed to win: 2,025 Democrats; 1,191 GOP



Hillary Rodham Clinton... 54%

Barack Obama... 37%