Senator Barack Obama won decisive victories over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska on Saturday, giving him an impressive sweep going into a month when the Democratic nominating contests are expected to favor him.
The successes come just as Mr. Obama is building a strong advantage over Mrs. Clinton in raising money, providing important fuel for the nominating contests ahead. Still, the results were expected to do little to settle the muddle in the delegate race that resulted after the wave of contests last Tuesday in which the two candidates split up states from coast to coast.
In Republican contests on Saturday, Mike Huckabee won in Kansas, an embarrassing setback for Senator John McCain as he tries to rally the party around him as the nominee. The candidates were battling in Louisiana and Washington, where the results were too close to call. The Associated Press called the Louisiana race for Mr. Huckabee.
While Mr. Obama had been expected to win the contests on Saturday, the margin of victories were surprising, particularly in Nebraska and Washington, which offered the day’s biggest trove of delegates. In both states, he captured 68 percent of the vote in caucuses, compared with Mrs. Clinton’s roughly 32 percent.
“We won in Louisiana, we won in Nebraska, we won in Washington state,” Mr. Obama said at the Virginia Democrats’ Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, Va. “We won North, we won South, we won in between. And I believe that we can win in Virginia on Tuesday if you’re ready to stand for change.”
While Mr. Obama’s victories were significant, the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionally, so Mrs. Clinton stands to walk away from the contests with a sizable number. Both campaigns have dug in for a long and fierce delegate fight.
The nominating fight now turns to Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, which hold their primaries on Tuesday. Mr. Obama is considered well positioned in those states.
With the fight for the nomination extending beyond the 22 contests last Tuesday, voters in a fresh batch of states have suddenly found themselves in the thick of the most competitive primary in a generation. In past years they tended to cast their votes well after the nominee was effectively chosen.
The New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/us/politics/10primary.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
Primary Calendar: Democratic Nominating Contests
To become the Democratic nominee for president, a candidate needs to capture 2,025 delegate votes. State primaries and caucuses select pledged delegates, who are obligated to vote for the candidate their state chose. Additional unpledged delegates — consisting mostly of party leaders and elected officials — are free to vote for any candidate. Daily delegate totals reflect all delegates allotted to the state, even though some may not pledge their vote until a later date. States are listed according to the first major event in its selection process. Republican Calendarhttp://politics.nytimes.com/election-guide/2008/primaries/democraticprimaries/index.html
The New York Times