Posted: January 19, 2008 5:55 PM
Clinton Beats Obama to Score Win in Tight Nevada Race
Sen. Hillary Clinton picked up her second consecutive political triumph Saturday in Nevada, besting rival Sen. Barack Obama headed toward next weekend’s Democratic primary in South Carolina and the Feb. 5 mega-Tuesday, when more than 20 states will vote.
Clinton won roughly half the vote in a three-way battle in Nevada, with Obama coming in at about 45 percent and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards finishing a distant third in single digits.
The victory marked a second-straight campaign triumph for the former First Lady, who scored a New Hampshire primary upset last week in an increasingly tense struggle with Obama.
After a polite, complimentary Democratic debate in LasVegas, the Obama and Clinton campaigns traded accusations of dirty politics in Nevada and both downplayed expectations ahead of the vote.
Clinton won 13 delegates in Nevada, compared to 12 for Obama, according to an Associated Press analysis of caucus results. All of the state’s 25 Democratic delegates have been awarded.
Clinton leads the overall race for delegates with 237, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as super-delegates. She is followed by Obama with 135 and Edwards with 50.
A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
Obama’s hopes in Nevada were pinned to an outpouring of support from the powerful Culinary Workers Union, which endorsed him last week. But it appeared that turnout was lighter than expected at nine caucus sites established along the Las Vegas Strip for casino shift workers, the AP reported.
The Nevada Democratic contest proved intense, despite the absence of a barrage of negative television commercials.
The Clinton campaign claimed their supporters in the union had been the targets of threats designed to keep them from attending caucuses.
Obama’s camp said their backers received telephone calls that made repeated reference to “Barack Hussein Obama.” And the Illinois senator told reporters that former President Clinton “seems to be making a habit of mischaracterizing what I say.”
Interviews with Democratic caucus-goers indicated Clinton won about half the votes cast by whites and two-thirds of the support from Hispanics, many of whom belong to the union that endorsed Obama. Obama won about 80 percent of Nevada’s African-American vote.
Obama will be looking to next week’s primary in South Carolina to counter Clinton’s western victory. The state is home to thousands of African-American voters, who are expected to comprise as much as half the Democratic electorate.