Barack Obama Cruises To Mississippi Primary Win In Racially Polarized Election

Hillary Clinton sets sights on April 22 Pennsylvania vote.

Senator Barack Obama handily defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in Mississippi's Democratic primary on Tuesday, claiming an important win in the Deep South's last presidential contest before the two rivals square off in Pennsylvania next month in their ongoing battle for the Democratic Party's nomination.

"What we've tried to do is steadily make sure that in each state we are making the case about the need for change in this country," Obama told CNN following his latest victory. "Obviously, the people in Mississippi responded."

Senator John McCain, who has clinched the Republican nomination, easily won his primary, claiming 79 percent of the vote in Mississippi, CNN reports. Since winning in Texas and three other states on March 4, McCain has been spending more time fundraising and preparing for the general election this coming November.

Mississippi had 33 pledged Democratic delegates up for grabs, which will be allocated proportionally. Obama's win follows Saturday's Wyoming caucus triumph, but the Democratic contest is still very much up in the air.

Neither Obama nor Clinton is likely to capture the 2,025 delegates needed to win the nomination solely through the 10 remaining contests, and ultimately, the party's superdelegates — elected officials and party leaders — could likely decide the nominee at the party's national convention this August. At present, Obama leads Clinton in the overall delegate count 1,610 to 1,481, according to CNN's latest tally.

Exit polls show that Obama garnered 61 percent of the votes cast Tuesday, while Clinton took 37 percent. As with many of the preceding primaries, black voters overwhelming supported Obama, voting for him over Clinton 92 to 8 percent. But Mississippi's white voters sided with Clinton, supporting her over Obama 70 percent to 26 percent. The Associated Press claims that only two other primary states were as racially polarized — those staged in Alabama and in Clinton's former home state, Arkansas. Polls seem to indicate that for roughly 40 percent of Mississippi Democratic voters, race was an important factor in this election.

After the results came in, Clinton's camp issued a statement congratulating Obama on his win, adding that the New York senator "look[ed] forward to campaigning in Pennsylvania and around the country as this campaign continues."

Tuesday's primary followed just days after former President Bill Clinton suggested that his wife and Obama could team up, making what would be, in his mind, a "dream" ticket — one that would assure our next president would be a Democrat. But Obama has rejected the suggestion, offering that he's "not running for vice president."

On April 22, the race for the nomination will heat up in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania has a crucial 158 delegates up for grabs.

Meanwhile, Obama also claimed a win in the Texas Democratic caucuses, which were held last week but not called until Tuesday evening; CNN reports that Obama will end up with more delegates from the state than Clinton, who won the state's primary. Under the Texas Democratic Party's complex delegate selection plan, Texas voters participated in both a primary and caucuses last week.

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