New York: Clinton, McCain win

February 5, 2008 8:24:56 PM PST
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton beat back a strong challenge by Barack Obama on Tuesday to decisively win her adopted state in one of the most compelling state primaries in years. Sen. John McCain easily defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to claim all of New York's Republican delegates.With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton had 57 percent of the vote to Obama's 40 percent. McCain had 51 percent, compared with Romney's 28 percent. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had 11 percent.

"Tonight we are hearing voices of people across America, people of all ages, of all colors, all faiths and all walks of life," Clinton said at a rally in New York City. "People on the day shift, the night shift, the late shift ... all those who aren't in the headlines but who always have written America's story."

"Tonight in record numbers, you voted not just to make history but to remake America," she said.

Although Clinton won New York, Obama seemed poised to get a big chunk of New York's 232 Democratic delegates because a large majority of them are split based on the vote in each of the state's congressional districts.

Clinton was tested by Obama in most heavily black neighborhoods in New York City and liberal upstate stretches with college campuses in his campaign to be the nation's first black president. Obama led strongly in some of those mostly black neighborhoods.

In the Republican primary, McCain had the backing of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his quest for the state's 101 winner-takes-all delegates. Giuliani ended his campaign last week after a poor showing in Florida's primary, the latest of several defeats after leading the GOP field months ago.

Turnout, as expected, was huge for Democrats. More than 1.7 million of the state's 5 million enrolled Democrats voted Tuesday, with 97 percent of precincts reporting. That's far more than the 715,000 who voted in the 2004 primary. As for Republicans, about 587,000 voted Tuesday from among the 3 million enrolled in the GOP.

At an elementary school Tuesday, Clinton voted with her husband and daughter and signed autographs on sample ballots for people at the polling place.

"If voters ask themselves who they think would be the best president, and if Democrats ask who they think would be the best candidate to win, I feel really good about the answers to those questions," she said.

Of New York's 232 Democratic delegates, 151 will be split based on the vote in each of the state's 29 congressional districts and the remaining 81 will be divided based on the statewide popular vote. A Democratic candidate must get 15 percent of the vote in a congressional district to earn delegates.

Exit polls showed voters felt the top issues in the race are the economy, the Iraq war and health care and most believed Clinton could best address those. But most voters polled also said Obama is the best candidate to bring change.

"Obama really represents the restart of our country. I want to turn it off and start it up again," said Josh Koppel, 33, a television producer who voted for Obama in Manhattan.

New York also had the rare distinction of holding a Super Tuesday primary on the same day as a Super Bowl ticker-tape parade. Hundreds of thousands of people watched the Giants celebrate their victory in lower Manhattan on Tuesday.

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