Political Debriefing

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 2/22/08 4:40am

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., beat Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in both the Wisconsin Democratic primary and the Hawaii caucuses, held on Feb. 19. Obama carried Wisconsin with 58 percent of the vote to Clinton's 41 percent. Although the Clinton campaign did not expect to win in Wisconsin, the loss there, by a spread of 17 percentage points, underscored the difficulties Clinton faces heading into the next string of primaries on March 4.

Obama, who has performed better than Clinton in caucus states, grew up in Hawaii and was widely expected to win there. He carried the state by a margin of 76 percent to 24 percent.

In Wisconsin, Obama increased his share of the vote among women and middle-aged voters, two voting blocs that had previously provided consistent support for Clinton. The Clinton campaign considers the Ohio and Texas contests to be crucial in denting Obama's momentum -- he has won 23 states, compared to Clinton's 13, including Florida and Michigan -- and to stanch his lead in delegates. Between Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island, 370 Democratic delegates will be at stake on March 4, the largest cache since the 22 contests on Feb. 5. These four contests could cause either candidate to pull ahead or could leave the two in a tie looking ahead to Pennsylvania's contest on April 22.

Obama's Tuesday night wins mark ten consecutive nominating contests for the senator and will allow Obama to claim a fundraising advantage over Clinton. Both candidates are campaigning heavily in Texas and Ohio where economic issues are expected to dominate voter sentiment.

The two Democratic candidates met at a debate in Austin, Texas, last night, sponsored by CNN. This is the first time the candidates have met since Jan. 31.

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took Wisconsin's Republican primary, splitting the conservative vote with former Gov. Mike Huckabee R-Ark. McCain also won the party's Washington primary. McCain's nomination has been guaranteed since former Gov. Mitt Romney R-Mass., and former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani R-N.Y. dropped out of the race after the Super Tuesday primaries on Feb. 22.

McCain recently won endorsements from Romney and former President George H. W. Bush. With the support of the Republican party behind him, McCain has begun to turn his primary campaign into a run for the general election in Nov. 2008.