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Obama, McCain projected with hard-fought wins in Missouri

6 February 2008

WASHINGTON –  US Senator Barack Obama will win the very close Democratic presidential primary in the Midwestern state of Missouri, television networks projected early Wednesday.

In the Republican Party primary, Senator John McCain was projected to win a race in which the top three centre-right candidates were separated by just 4 percentage points. As a winner-take-all Republican state, Missouri’s entire slate of 58 delegates will go to McCain at the party’s presidential nominating convention in September.

Obama, who was elected in 2004 to the Senate from the neighbouring state of Illinois, had a lead of 49 percent to 48 percent for former first lady Hillary Clinton with 99 percent of precincts reporting. It was a lead of fewer than 7,000 votes out of more than 815,000 cast.

Obama dominated the state’s two large cities, St Louis in the east and Kansas City in the west, while Clinton, a senator from New York, had the edge across rural Missouri in between. The Democrats award delegates proportionally, so neither candidate gains a huge edge in the state.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee led on the Republican side for most of the night as votes were counted in the state, but McCain enjoyed a late surge to win with 33 percent to 32 percent. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was a close third at 29 percent.

Missouri’s Republican Party has a strong contingent of conservative Christians and a powerful anti-abortion lobby, which lent strength to Huckabee, a Baptist minister who has courted the religious right nationwide.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

Subject: Super Tuesday, US elections