Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Crushing losses may signal fatal trend for Clinton

AP , WASHINGTON

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's crushing losses in Maryland and Virginia highlight an erosion in what had been solid advantages among women, whites and older and working-class voters.

While this week's results can be explained by those states' relatively large numbers of blacks and well-educated residents, who tend to be Barack Obama supporters, her presidential campaign could be doomed if the trends should continue.

Clinton is holding on to some of her supporters who are largely defined by race and often by level of education, such as low-income white workers and older white women, exit polls of voters show. She has been losing other blocs, again stamped by personal characteristics, such as blacks, men and young people both black and white, and better-educated whites.

The latest defeats have slowed the one-time favorite's political momentum at a bad time. With Obama winning eight consecutive contests and easily outdistancing her in raising money, she must now endure three weeks until primaries in Texas and Ohio that she hopes will resurrect her campaign.

Clinton's losses have also enabled Obama to take a slight lead in their crucial fight for convention delegates. With 2,025 needed to clinch the nomination at the party's gathering in August, Obama has 1,224 delegates to Clinton's 1,198, the latest count by The Associated Press (AP) shows.

Before this year's presidential contests began, Obama was running consistently behind his rival in the polls. The situation has changed since voting began, especially after bitter exchanges during the Clinton-Obama contest in South Carolina highlighted their racial differences and, subsequently, former Senator John Edwards exited the race.

* Race and gender

In the Democratic primaries in both states, Barack Obama won both men and women. In Virginia, he got 68 percent of men and 60 percent of women, while in Maryland he got 62 percent of men and 55 percent of women.

In Virginia, Obama even won among white men, getting 58 percent of their votes, while Hillary Rodham Clinton took her base, white women, by an unusually small margin. In Virginia she got 53 percent to Obama's 47 percent among white women. But in Maryland, Clinton won overall among whites, winning by a wide margin among white women but only tying Obama among white men.

Obama won the votes of 90 percent of blacks in Virginia and 84 percent in Maryland.

* The youth vote

In Virginia, Obama won the votes of 61 percent of white voters under age 50, while Clinton won 56 percent of white voters over age 50. In Maryland, Obama and Clinton each won just less than half of whites under 50 and Clinton won 55 percent of whites older than 50.

Source: AP


Now, virtually all blacks support Obama, significant since they make up about one-fifth of Democratic voters overall.

And while last year's polls showed Clinton leading among men, Obama now leads her among males by 11 percentage points, according to exit polls of voters in 20 competitive Democratic primaries.

In both Virginia and Maryland, Clinton got the backing of only about four in 10 women and three in 10 men. Obama narrowly edged her among whites in Virginia, while she won among Maryland whites by 10 points. The two states surround the District of Columbia, the US capital, with a majority black population that also overwhelmingly voted for Obama.

In each state, Clinton got 45 percent of voters 65 and over, and just over one-third of people earning under US$50,000 annually or with high school degrees or less.

At the same time, Obama won huge margins among blacks, young voters, higher-income and better-educated people.

The figures from Tuesday's voting came from an exit poll conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International in 30 precincts each in Maryland and Virginia for the AP and television networks.

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