Hillary Clinton, John McCain Take Delegate Lead; Barack Obama Wins 14 States: Super Tuesday ’08

California goes to Clinton and McCain; Mitt Romney scores seven wins and Mike Huckabee four.

With results in from most of the 23 states holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday, Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain each took the lead in total wins in their parties’ races with 14 and nine wins each, respectively. But Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton had the lead in delegates after winning nine states’ elections, including several Northeastern states and perhaps the biggest prize of all: the delegate bonanza state of California, which she took handily. McCain also took California, which will give him a possibly insurmountable lead over his competitors. It’s still too early to tell which, if any, candidate might emerge from the massive national primary as the indisputable candidate for their party.

The wins were pretty evenly doled out early on, and the Democratic race continued to be airtight over the course of the long night, with wins coming for Clinton in California, Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York (which she represents as a senator), Tennessee (where tornadoes forced some polling stations to close), Arkansas (where she used to be the first lady) and Oklahoma. Obama took Illinois (a state he represents in the Senate), as well as Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Alabama, Minnesota, Connecticut, Kansas, North Dakota, Delaware, Georgia and Missouri, where he beat Clinton by a razor-thin margin of 1 percent. For much of the night, Obama and Clinton were locked in a tight race in the New Mexico caucus. Votes are still being tallied by hand, but the latest results show Obama with 49 percent of the vote and Clinton with 48 percent.

In what was a much more convincing win, McCain took California, Missouri, Oklahoma, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and Arizona (his home state). Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, was victorious in Utah (a state with a large Mormon population), as well as Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Minnesota, North Dakota and Massachusetts. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee completed the early sweep of home state wins by being the champ in Arkansas, as well as in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Tornadoes were also reported in Arkansas, although only a small amount of voters were affected.

According to CNN, the delegate count now stands at 615 for McCain, followed by Romney with 268, Huckabee with 169 and Congressman Ron Paul far behind with 16. Clinton held a slim lead over Obama, with 783 delegates to his 709. McCain is now just over halfway to getting the 1,191 delegates needed for the GOP nomination, while the Democratic race is still up for grabs: Clinton still has fewer than half of the 2,025 needed for the party’s nomination.

As the wins kept piling up for Obama across the country, he took the stage in Chicago and made reference to a “chorus of millions” calling for change. “The polls are just closing in California and the votes are still being counted in cities and towns across America … but there is one thing on this February night that we do not need the final results to know: Our time has come. Our time has come, our movement is real and change is coming to America,” he told supporters, who responded with shouts of “Yes we can!,” a refrain that has become his campaign’s clarion call. “What began as a whisper in Springfield, soon carried across the cornfields of Iowa, where farmers and factory workers, seniors and students stood up in numbers we’ve never seen before. They stood up to say that maybe this year we don’t have to settle for politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems. … Maybe this year, this time, can be different.”

Like Clinton, Obama extended hearty congratulations to his opponent, but tempered it by saying the choice for voters is between “our future and our past.” Despite his convincing portfolio of wins, Obama will most likely still end up trailing Clinton in delegates, but because he has raised more money than the New York senator, he could have an advantage going into the next round of primaries, which are in states where he is polling very well. Looking at the popular vote totals posted by CNN, though, which had Clinton with 49 percent (5.7 million) to Obama’s 48 percent (5.6 million), it’s clear that this contest will rage on well after Tuesday’s national referendum. In contrast, 3 million people voted for McCain, who earned 40 percent of the vote on the Republican side, followed by Romney, who drew 2.3 million (31 percent) and Huckabee, who attracted 1.6 million (21 percent).

Though his support has faded somewhat since his early win in Iowa, Huckabee actually picked up the first win of the day when he nabbed all 18 delegates from West Virginia’s GOP convention, winning 52 percent to Romney’s 47 percent, with the help of McCain supporters who backed Huckabee once it became apparent that their candidate wouldn’t win. Despite winning only four contests, Huckabee again told supporters that he was in for the long haul, and his resilience proved to be one of the talking points for pundits over the course of the evening. “Over the past few days, a lot of people have been trying to say that this is a two-man race,” Huckabee said. “Well, you know what? It is, and we’re in it!”

On the Democratic side, CNN called the race in Georgia for Obama shortly after polls closed in the state. CNN also reported that early exit polls had Obama carrying nearly 80 percent of the black vote in Georgia and almost 40 percent of the white vote, trends that also bode well for his chance in upcoming contests. And, following a similar pattern seen in early primaries, overall Obama was beating Clinton roughly 60 percent to 40 percent among voters ages 17-39, with Clinton winning among voters over 60 by a similar margin.

With Huckabee projected to squeak out a narrow 2 percent victory, one reason the Republican race in Georgia was so tight was that preliminary exit polls of conservative voters appear to show an even split between Romney and Huckabee, with 80 percent of their supporters identifying themselves as conservative, compared to just 49 percent of McCain’s voters who identified themselves as conservatives. The results in the state were also another sign that McCain has not quite won over the party’s conservative base.

Early on in the evening, the wins for each candidate came in states where they were projected to come out on top, but Clinton pulled off a major upset, edging Obama out in New Jersey and Massachusetts, based on CNN projections. Obama was expected to hold the latter state, following his endorsement last week from several members of the Kennedy family, including Massachusetts Senators Edward Kennedy and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Though news outlets began projecting winners based on exit polls moments after polls closed, the actual delegate count doled out to the candidates will not be known until most of the votes are tallied, except in the 10 winner-take-all Republican contests.

And it was McCain who began rolling up four of those winner-take-all states early. Exit polls showed that voters in both parties named the economy as the most important issue facing the country, which doesn’t bode well for Romney, who remains in second place despite adopting the economy as his number-one stump issue while trumpeting his business background.

Smiling broadly and looking more than a bit relieved, McCain thanked those who had stuck with him through thick and thin. “We’ve won in some of the biggest states in the country,” he said. “We’ve won primaries in the West, the South, the Midwest and the Northeast. And though I’ve never minded the role of the underdog, and relished as much as anyone come-from-behind wins, tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party front-runner for the nomination of the president of the United States. And I don’t really mind it one bit.” He also had kind words for Huckabee and his supporters, as well as his often-bitter rival Romney, who he called a “close competitor,” pointing to the California race — which was neck-and-neck at that point — as an example.

Again trying to shore up his weak support within the party’s conservative base, McCain mentioned his quarter-century allegiance to the Republican Party, vowing to defeat any Democrat who might go up against him, while subtly tweaking both his potential Democratic rivals and seemingly President Bush by vowing to win the popular vote — something Bush failed to do in 2000 and barely did in 2004. “I promise you if I am so fortunate to win your nomination, I will work hard to ensure that the conservative philosophy and principles of our great party, principles that have done so well by the country we love, will again win the votes of the majority of the American people and defeat any candidate our friends on the other side nominate.”

Romney also addressed his enthusiastic supporters with a vow that he was nowhere near finished. “The one thing that’s clear tonight is nothing’s clear,” he said his wife, Ann, had told him. He added: “The one thing that’s clear is this campaign’s going on!” But for Romney, who has spent tens of millions of his own money on the race only to have Huckabee steal his thunder on Super Tuesday, it was likely a disappointing night and another sign that his inability to win over a significant number of voters outside the base of the Republican Party could spell the end of his campaign.

California was the day’s biggest prize, with 170 delegates at stake for the Republicans — more than 14 percent of the total needed for the nomination — and 370 for Democrats. In all, 22 states held Democratic primaries or caucuses and 21 Republican contests took place, representing 41 percent (1,191) of the 2,380 delegates needed for the nomination.

MTV’s “Choose or Lose” army of Street Team ’08 volunteers were on the ground in 23 states, covering the youth vote using the first-ever live mobile-to-Web broadcasts — from polling stations, caucuses, candidate rallies and everywhere young voters congregated on Tuesday.

After several bitter exchanges in recent weeks, Clinton extended an olive branch of sorts to rival Obama, congratulating him on his wins and saying she looked forward to continuing to campaign and debate him. Even so, she reiterated that she was the candidate who would be ready to do the job of president on “day one,” a line she has repeated often a means of highlighting her experience over that of the first-term Illinois senator.

She also answered recent questions some have raised about whether she could withstand the expected assault from the Republican Party should she win the nomination, vowing that she would not be “Swift-boated,” a reference to the Republican political dirty tricks that took down 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry when questions were raised about his service in Vietnam.

“Tonight we are hearing the voices of people across America,” Clinton told her supporters. “People of all ages, of all colors, all faiths and all walks of life. People on the day shift, the night shift, the late shift with the crying baby. Moms and dads who want a better world for our children. Young people who deserve a world of opportunity. … After seven years of a president who listens only to the special interests, you’re ready for a president who brings your voice, your values and your dreams to your White House.”

Here are the projected results in each state:

Alabama

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mike Huckabee

Alaska

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mitt Romney

Arizona

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – John McCain

Arkansas

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – Mike Huckabee

California

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – John McCain

Colorado

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mitt Romney

Connecticut

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – John McCain

Delaware

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – John McCain

Georgia

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mike Huckabee

Idaho

Democrat – Barack Obama

Illinois

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – John McCain

Kansas

Democrat – Barack Obama

Massachusetts

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – Mitt Romney

Minnesota

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mitt Romney

Missouri

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – John McCain

Montana

Republican – Mitt Romney

New Jersey

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – John McCain

New Mexico

Democrat – Barack Obama

New York

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – John McCain

North Dakota

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mitt Romney

Oklahoma

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – John McCain

Tennessee

Democrat – Hillary Clinton
Republican – Mike Huckabee

Utah

Democrat – Barack Obama
Republican – Mitt Romney

Get informed! Head to Choose or Lose for nonstop coverage of the 2008 presidential election, including everything from the latest news on the candidates to on-the-ground multimedia reports from our 51 citizen journalists, MTV and MySpace’s Presidential Dialogues, and much more.

[This story was originally published at 7:39 p.m. ET on 02.05.08]

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