Stupor Wednesday dawns after long night of Super Tuesday
With the dust still settling Wednesday from a stupifying blur of 43 contests in 24 states, the outcome of Super Tuesday on the presidential nomination was still being tallied.
6 February 2008
WASHINGTON - With the dust still settling Wednesday from a stupifying blur of 43 contests in 24 states, the outcome of Super Tuesday on the presidential nomination was still being tallied.
The biggest single day of presidential primary voting in US history was marked by an arcane system to distribute delegates to the summer nominating conventions that will chose the candidates for 4 November general elections.
A quick delegate tally was hard to calculate early Wednesday, as the rules for distributing delegates differ between the parties and among the states, worsened by dizzying terminology: winner-take-all, proportional by state or district, open primary, closed primary, caucuses, convention, pledged delegates, super delegates.
In the centre-left Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton's victories in New York and California - Super Tuesday's biggest prizes - could help to propel her to a narrow victory in delegates over rival Barack Obama. But neither senator was close to securing the majority of delegates needed to win the nomination at the August convention in Denver, Colorado.
Because the Democrats distribute delegates by a variety of proportional systems, the margin of victory was as important as finishing first.
In fact, Obama won at least 13 of 22 Democratic contests, mostly in smaller states with fewer delegates. However the delegate count adds up, he further cemented his national viability with victories in places as far-flung as Georgia, Missouri and Alaska.
Once an unquestioned frontrunner, Clinton now faces a long battle, and after Tuesday's results she claimed to look forward "to continuing our campaign."
Even if she comes away with a few more delegates from Tuesday's vote, Obama has clear momentum heading into voting later this month in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington state, Maine, Virginia, Maryland, Hawaii and Wisconsin.
Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson told the Chicago Tribune that the states on the February schedule "clearly favour Obama more so than us." He held out better prospects for the primaries on 3 March in the big states of Ohio and Texas.
On the Republican side, Senator John McCain will wake up Wednesday as the unquestioned frontrunner. The delegate totals were still unclear, but he clearly seized the lion's share with victories in nine of 21 states including the key, winner-take-all states of New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Connecticut and his home state of Arizona.
The clearest loser of the night was former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who had hoped to establish himself as the conservative alternative to McCain, whose maverick reputation has kept him from being embraced by the right wing of the Republican party.
Instead, the McCain juggernaut picked up steam. Romney won seven states, but lost a handful of Southern, culturally conservative states to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher.
Romney, who made a fortune in venture capital before entering politics, has spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money, in addition to raising tens of millions more from supporters. But his prospects after Super Tuesday looked poor, indeed, even as he exhorted supporters that the race was "not done tonight."
Huckabee, running his campaign on a shoestring, had struggled since his 3 January victory in Iowa. He still poses little threat to McCain but revelled in his resurgence at Romney's expense.
"A lot of people have been trying to say this is a two-man race. It is, and we're in it," Huckabee said to cheers at a campaign rally.
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[Copyright dpa 2008]
Subject: Super Tuesday, US elections