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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

News Coverage from ABC News: Obama-Clinton Race


Obama Solidly Routs Clinton in N.C.
Democratic Senators Battle for Potentially Decisive Victory in Indiana

May 6, 2008

As expected, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has solidly won the North Carolina primary, ABC News projects, while he and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, remain locked in a tight race in Indiana.

Nearly unanimous support among African-Americans, who accounted for a third of voters in North Carolina, lifted Obama to easy victory, according to
preliminary exit poll results.

About 91 percent of African American voters in N.C. supported Obama. The Illinois senator also benefited from a surge of new voters; 18 percent in North Carolina said it was their first time voting in a primary, and they favored him by a vast 68-26 percent.

Meanwhile, it's too early to call the race in Indiana. The Hoosier State is seen as Clinton's best chance for victory, with demographics similar to Ohio and Pennsylvania -- states she has won in the past -- but Obama remains competitive in Indiana, a state that borders his homestate of Illinois.

The former first lady has planned a victory rally in an Indianapolis hotel ballroom tonight.

Political watchers argue a double victory for Obama tonight could sway undecided superdelegates and increase pressure on Clinton to step out of the race. The former first lady trails Obama in the
delegate count, the popular vote, and in the number of states won.

"If Clinton doesn't win Indiana you wonder how she moves on after that," said Peri Arnold, a political science professor at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind.

However a win for Clinton will undoubtably fuel her argument that Obama's failure to reach white, blue-collar workers in states like Indiana could be a detriment in the general election fight against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

"Unless one of them is able to win both of these states, I think we're going to have a continuation of the status quo," said Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist unaffiliated with either candidate.

Indiana Primary Potentially Decisive

Battling to the end, the exhausted rivals urged North Carolina and Indiana voters to the polls Tuesday, each hoping to shake up a Democratic race that has gone on longer than anyone expected.

Obama dropped by a family restaurant in Greenwood, Ind., on Tuesday, eating an omelette and hashbrowns and chatting with diners. he later visited a polling station and played basketball with friends -- what has become a primary day ritual.

I think we've campaigned hard," Obama said Tuesday. "I think it's gonna be close. I don't think anybody really knows exactly what's gonna happen."

Obama will speak tonight at a victory rally in Raleigh, N.C.

Highlighting her working-class message,
Clinton visited the Indy 500 racetrack in Indianapolis with Sarah Fisher, a female race car driver who has endorsed her.

We need to get on the track in America and get toward the finish line and change this country," Clinton said.

Asked if she would drop out of the race if she loses tonight, Clinton refused to say.

"Politics is unpredictable. So I'm just going to wait and see what the voters have to say," she said.

Indiana Seen as Clinton's Best Hope

After five months of bruising primary battles, Clinton has appeared to find a groove in recent weeks, defiantly refusing to withdraw from the race and pushing the party to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan.

She has continued to aggressively target blue collar and low-income voters, hammering her message that she will fight for them.

Indiana has many of the same demographics that have turned out for Clinton in recent primaries such as Ohio and Pennsylvania: white, rural, blue collar, low-education, women and older voters.
"You notice as she campaigns that she drops the ending of words, and becomes 'we're working people,'" Arnold said. "She becomes sort of Rosie-on-the-night-shift and stylistically she becomes very attractive to these voters."

Obama has done better among younger voters, people with higher-education, self-described liberals, and African Americans. Democratic strategists argue the candidates now need to show they can eat into each other's demographic base in order to pull away from the two-person race and claim victory.

"We're in demographic gridlock and we can't seem to get out of it," Carrick said.

The race narrowed in recent weeks in Indiana, which borders Obama's home state of Illinois. About 25 percent of the people living in the state are in the Chicago media market.

"They're familiar with Obama and have been hearing positive messages about him going back to the beginning of his career," said Arnold of Notre Dame. "I think that gives Obama a bit more purchase on this electorate and may explain why this is a much closer race in Indiana."

Obama's 'Cosmopolitanism'
Obama, who went from living on food stamps as a child to become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, has at times appeared uncomfortable in recent weeks trying to appeal to white, rural, working class voters by drinking beer and campaigning at construction sites and on factory floors.

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