Obama Wins in Mississippi
Back Story With The Times’s Jeff Zeleny (mp3)
The Crash On Obama Continues …
Mr. Obama’s victory was built on a wave of support among blacks, who made up half of those who turned out to vote, according to exit polls conducted by television networks and The Associated Press. The polls found that roughly 90 percent of black voters supported Mr. Obama, but only a third of white voters did.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting across Mississippi, Mr. Obama led Mrs. Clinton 60 percent to 37 percent.
“It’s just another win in our column, and we are getting more delegates,” Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said in declaring victory in an interview on CNN from Chicago, where he arrived Tuesday evening after spending the day in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. “I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonderful support. 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.”
Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, won the primary for his party, taking him closer to the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, according to a count by The New York Times.
After a frenzied string of primaries and caucuses for more than two months, Mississippi was alone in holding its contest Tuesday, where 33 delegates were at stake. It was the last primary before a six-week interlude. The Pennsylvania primary on April 22 opens the final stage of the Democratic nominating fight, with eight states, Puerto Rico and Guam left to weigh in.
Mississippi offered Mr. Obama an opportunity to regain his footing after losing the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton last week in three contests, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. Mr. Obama had been expected to win resoundingly in Mississippi, a state where 36 percent of the population is black, the highest percentage in the nation. He has enjoyed strong support among black voters and won all the other contests in the Deep South by large margins.
While Mrs. Clinton, of New York, campaigned in Mississippi last week and former President Bill Clinton dropped in over the weekend, the Clinton campaign has mostly been looking ahead to Pennsylvania, with its 158 delegates at stake.
Mrs. Clinton was campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday when Mr. Obama began the day with a final appeal for support in the Mississippi Delta. After having a scrambled-egg breakfast at Buck’s Restaurant in Greenville, he shook hands with those who had gathered outside the strip mall and urged people to vote.
“We need some jobs!” someone from the crowd called to Mr. Obama.
“I promise when I’m president of the United States, I’ll come back to the Delta,” Mr. Obama said. “You all keep me in your prayers, now.”
It is unclear how much difference the late campaigning had. The early surveys of voters, conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, showed that 6 of 10 Democratic primary voters made up their minds more than a month ago.
In the final days of the primary race, Mrs. Clinton raised the idea that Democrats struggling to decide between the candidates could have it both ways, implying that Mr. Obama would make a suitable running mate.
Mr. Obama rejected that idea on Monday as he campaigned in Mississippi, telling voters, “With all due respect, I’ve won twice as many states as Senator Clinton.”
Still, according to preliminary exit polls, not all voters seemed eager to rule out the notion.
As voters left the polls on Tuesday, 6 in 10 Obama supporters said that he should select Mrs. Clinton for vice president if he won the nominating fight. And 4 in 10 Clinton voters said she should choose Mr. Obama if he she won.
As in many other states, an overwhelming share of voters said they were looking for change and were worried about the economy. Mr. Obama won the support of voters who listed those as their chief concerns, according to the surveys of voters.
Mississippi Democrats were twice as likely to say Mr. Obama inspired them about their future as opposed to Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama was more than twice as likely to be seen as honest.
Anita Nichols, who came to see Mr. Obama on the eve of the primary at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, said she was delighted that voters in her state had an opportunity to be heard in the Democratic presidential contest. Ms. Nichols said she hoped a convincing Mississippi victory would nudge him along in the protracted fight.
“I’m praying that he wins; I really am,” Ms. Nichols said in an interview, an Obama button fastened to her lapel. “This country is ready for change, but it’s not just him. The president can only do so much. He’s got to surround himself with qualified people, and the citizens have to work, too.”