Obama, McCain Sweep Potomac Region in Primaries

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain swept the Potomac area yesterday in the region's presidential primaries. Washington Post political reporter Shailagh Murray discusses the primary results and what they mean for the road ahead.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, television and film writers finally agree on a deal with studios ending a 100 day strike. We'll talk about it. Major lenders have come up with some help for homeowners who are falling behind in their payments and we'll try to understand how the Bush Administration plans to try six men for their alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. But first a word about last night's Potomac Primary. Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain swept Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. Here to talk about the result and what to look for next is Shailagh Murray, Political Reporter with the Washington Post nice to talk to you again.

Ms. SHAILAGH MURRAY (Washington Post): Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: So Shailagh so it was a sweep for both men but there were some interesting trends underneath the numbers. Let's take the Democrats first. What did you notice about Senator Barack Obama's win?

Ms. MURRAY: Well, he really sort of barged in on almost all of her major constituencies. I think the only line she held was with older women. But otherwise he has managed to penetrate all of her core groups, especially lower income white voters, which have been you know, an important core component of Ms. Clinton's electoral you know, formula. And he won by such a convincing margin with - I think by 22 points in Virginia that ought to be just terrifying to the Clinton campaign this morning.

MARTIN: How do you think he did it?

Ms. MURRAY: You know, it's interesting. We saw, we saw indications that this was, this might be happening in Maine on Sunday, a little noticed caucus, that he won by 20 points. A state with a similar lower income white profile working class, should be Clinton country. And he, I suppose, I mean one can only assume that his message is just starting to resonate with these groups, that this is... This is the hardest group of Democrats to break through with because they have the least amount of time. They don't go to rallies. They don't watch cable news and they're, they're in some ways the least aware of the campaigns as they are unfolding.

So as a consequence they've been a very loyal constituency for Senator Clinton because they know her so well. That's where her name recognition really benefits her. So I think that what we see is Senator Obama just you know, grinding away with this, well that sort of not very...

MARTIN: That's okay. We get your point.

Ms. MURRAY: But he has stayed on the same message for the last year and I think it's starting to resonate with these folks and maybe they are just responding to it the way everybody else is.

MARTIN: Okay, on the Republican side, just briefly, Senator McCain, a convincing victory in Virginia. But Mike Huckabee closer than I think a lot of people might think, given that there are so many, I would argue, national security minded voters that have been a McCain top issue. Why do you think that is and is that a sign of something to come or is it just sort of the last gasp for the Huckabee campaign?

Ms. MURRAY: You know, we, this is the big mystery on the Republican side. Clearly a lot of Republicans just still very unsatisfied with Senator McCain. He's going to be in the House today speaking with House Republicans trying to shore up these constituencies. And he seemed to have broken through last week, but yet, you know, Governor Huckabee continues to win states or nearly win states with nothing. I mean with no money and no real campaign to speak of. So it's a, you know, they want him to go away. He's not going away and presumably this will - I think he's already campaigning in Wisconsin. So it's not you know, at least be around for another week.

MARTIN: Okay, so Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio are next. Shailagh, we'll check back in with you.

Shailagh Murray is a political reporter with the Washington Post. She joined us by phone. Thanks so much.

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