Obama, McCain Triumph, Look Ahead to March

A supporter holds up a sign as John McCain speaks at a rally in Brookfield, Wis. i i

A supporter holds up a sign as Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona speaks at a rally in Brookfield, Wis., on Tuesday. Joshua Lott/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Joshua Lott/Getty Images
A supporter holds up a sign as John McCain speaks at a rally in Brookfield, Wis.

A supporter holds up a sign as Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona speaks at a rally in Brookfield, Wis., on Tuesday.

Joshua Lott/Getty Images
A woman walks away from a voting booth in Cedarburg, Wis. i i

A woman walks away from a voting booth after casting her ballot at Country Keg & Pub Restaurant in Cedarburg, Wis., on Tuesday. Joshua Lott/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Joshua Lott/Getty Images
A woman walks away from a voting booth in Cedarburg, Wis.

A woman walks away from a voting booth after casting her ballot at Country Keg & Pub Restaurant in Cedarburg, Wis., on Tuesday.

Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama won Wisconsin's Democratic primary on Tuesday, extending his winning streak over his rival for the party's presidential nomination, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Taken together with Hawaii, Obama now has 10 consecutive wins against Clinton, counting eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

Exit polls showed that Obama continued to make inroads into Clinton's base by splitting the vote among women, union households and households with less than $50,000 in annual income. He also managed a modest majority among white voters.

In his victory speech, Obama wasted no time before looking ahead to the next contests, to be held on March 4 in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. Speaking from a Houston stage and holding a sample ballot, he told supporters that early voting in Texas had already begun and asked them to help him secure more delegates.

"Houston, I think we've achieved liftoff," he said about his Wisconsin win.

On the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain easily defeated former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Wisconsin's presidential primary. McCain's victory is likely to increase pressure on Huckabee to drop out of the race so that the Republican Party can unite behind a single candidate.

Huckabee has said he will remain in the race until either he or McCain secures the necessary delegates to win the GOP nomination. That would appear all but certain to happen on March 4.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, McCain focused on the general election campaign.

"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure that Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change," he said, referencing one of the central themes of the Obama campaign. In recent days, Obama — who is known for his inspirational speeches — has come under attack from both McCain and Clinton for the content of his speeches. On Monday, the Clinton campaign accused him of "plagiarism" for borrowing some of his rhetoric from other speakers.

Clinton did not deliver a concession speech at her campaign event in Youngstown, Ohio. Instead, she highlighted her own strengths as a candidate while also taking a swipe at Obama. At a rally, she told supporters that a presidential primary "is about picking a president who relies not just on words but on work — on hard work to get America back to work."

Exit Polls: Economy as Key Issue for Voters

In presidential contests across the U.S., the economy has emerged as a top concern for voters, and the Wisconsin electorate was no exception. Exit polls there showed trade was also a key issue for the many working-class Democrats who voted. Seven in 10 voters said international trade has caused job losses in Wisconsin, while fewer than one in five voters said it created more jobs than it has eliminated.

Independents cast about one-quarter of the ballots in the Democratic race. Roughly 15 percent of the electorate said they were first-time voters.

On the Republican side, McCain received stronger support among moderate Republicans than among independents, a group that he has won easily in other contests. His rival Huckabee received more support among those who called themselves very conservative.

Wisconsin has long nurtured its tradition of an open primary, meaning voters could easily vote for candidates in either party. The state does not register voters by party, and new voters can even register at the polls on the day of the contest.

Democrats Look Toward March 4

With the Democratic race still tight, Wisconsin and its 74 Democratic delegates took on greater importance in the battle between Clinton and Obama. But the candidates could not focus all of their attention on Wisconsin— given the other upcoming primaries and the task of winning over the party's superdelegates, who act as free agents and who can vote for any candidate regardless of the popular vote in their states.

During his campaign stops in Wisconsin, Obama talked mostly about the economy and tried to court the state's white, working-class voters. He visited a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wis., telling the workers, "We have greater income disparity in this country than we've seen since the first year of the Great Depression."

Clinton's campaign has always kept its focus on the upcoming primaries in the delegate-rich states of Ohio and Texas. The evening of the Feb. 12 "Potomac Primary" — in which she lost contests in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to Obama — Clinton delivered her concession speech from El Paso, Texas, where she hoped to do well with the region's large number of Hispanic voters. Clinton also began running ads in working-class Ohio, featuring images of a waitress working late, in which she expressed her sympathy for those who must work the "night shift."

McCain Looks to November Election

On the Republican side, McCain has an impressive delegate lead over Huckabee and is largely perceived as the party's inevitable nominee. His campaign rhetoric during the past week has reflected this presumptive status: He has focused his attacks on his potential Democratic opponents, with an eye toward the general election, rather than on Huckabee, his chief remaining Republican rival.

McCain received two key endorsements recently. On President Day, former President George H.W. Bush threw his support behind McCain and urged other Republicans to do the same. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race earlier this month, asked his pledged delegates to vote for McCain.

Still, McCain has yet to fully win over his fellow conservative Republicans, who tend to view him as a renegade for breaking party rank over issues such as immigration.

From NPR reports and the Associated Press

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