ANDERSON — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton decided to stay in Indiana on Tuesday night and gather her supporters at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis. Sen. Barack Obama was in North Carolina. Maybe they knew how Tuesday’s primary elections would turn out.

Obama, with 64 percent of the vote, was called the winner in North Carolina shortly after the polls closed. Indiana was a little closer, but Clinton maintained a sizable lead throughout the counting hours. The victory in Indiana helps Clinton stay close to Obama in the delegate total for the Democratic presidential nomination, but the Illinois senator still maintains a lead. With seven low-delegate primaries left, the race is poised to go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver starting Aug. 25.

In Madison County, where supporters of both candidates — as well as voters themselves — were out in force Tuesday, Clinton held steady at 55 percent for most of the counting. Both candidates visited Anderson and traveled to every corner of the Hoosier state over the past six weeks, but Clinton obviously made a better impression.

“I think this primary had two great candidates to pick from,” said State Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson. “We need to resolve the issue of who’s going to be president so we can team up together.”

Austin said she’d like to see the Democratic primary winner and loser in lockstep as candidates for president and vice president on Nov. 4. John McCain, who won Indiana easily Tuesday, will be the Republican candidate for president.

Anderson Mayor Kris Ockomon has thrown his support behind Clinton since he shared the Wigwam stage with her during her visit to Anderson on March 20.

“I’m very, very excited about that (Clinton’s victory Tuesday),” he said. He added that he was worried that the defeat in North Carolina might persuade her to drop out of the race, “but I think she’ll press on.”

The Democratic primary has galvanized the Hoosier State, especially Democrats, like no other since Robert Kennedy brought his campaign here in 1968. He and Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy were in a fight similar to the one between Clinton and Obama.

More delegates needed

Clinton and Obama are busy grabbing delegates, but neither has enough to win the Democratic Party nomination. It takes 2,025 delegates to win. With North Carolina, Obama has secured 1,860. With Indiana, Clinton’s total went to 1,134. Obama can claim 252 superdelegates, and Clinton has 266.

Clinton has always led in the superdelegate count despite losing a string of early primaries. According to The Nation, superdelegates will comprise 40 percent of the voting power at the Democratic National Convention. “There are 842 superdelegates — un-pledged party leaders not chosen by the voters, free to support the candidate of their choice,” The Nation explained.

For the past six weeks, up until the day of the primary, the race in Indiana between Clinton and Obama was too close to call. When they made their appearances in Anderson — Clinton at the Wigwam on March 20 and Obama at Anderson High School on April 26 — the crowds were enthusiastic. Both candidates spoke on kitchen-table issues — gas prices, jobs, the war’s effect on Midwest communities.

In the month between their visits, though, Obama went through the wringer with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s inflammatory comments, which Obama repeatedly repudiated. Obama himself told an audience in San Francisco about people in Pennsylvania being bitter and taking to guns and religion because the government had failed them. Clinton wasted no time taking Obama to task for his pastor and his remarks.

Obama began to look vulnerable before Indiana and North Carolina, though no one doubted that he’d win the Tar Heel state, which has a larger population of black people. His vulnerability, at least in part, sprang from what Newsweek calls his “Bubba problem.”

According to the Associated Press, Obama gained more than 90 percent of the black vote in Indiana, while Clinton won an estimated 61 percent of the white vote.

In North Carolina, according to surveys, Clinton won 60 percent of the white vote while Obama claimed support from roughly 90 percent of African-Americans who cast ballots.

Rep. Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, doesn’t think the outcome of primaries in Indiana and North Carolina will solve much.

“The delegate count is not going to be a significant jump for either of them,” he said.

Regardless of who won, Reske was glad both candidates made it to Anderson. “That energized a lot of young voters. It was the thrill of watching this and watching the interest in politics.”

Reske said he expects Democrats, who may be torn between the two candidates now, to pull together behind whomever gets nominated.

Obama and Clinton are already gearing up for the next set of primaries on the long march to Denver. Obama turned down a debate with Clinton in Indiana last week, and now Clinton is seeking another one in 65-delegate Oregon in two weeks.

Four years ago, John Kerry was already the presumptive nominee by the time the Indiana primary rolled around. This year the state was a player. Reske for one wants to see that interest continue.

“It was great to see that interest in people not normally involved,” he said.



Democratic primaries left

May 13: Nebraska (31 delegates) West Virginia (39)

May 20: Kentucky (60), Oregon (65)

June 3: Montana (24), South Dakota (23)

June 7: Puerto Rico (63)

Vote totals

Madison County:

Obama — 13,188

Clinton — 16,888


Obama — 514,909 (85% reporting)

Clinton — 555,261 (85% reporting)

Total delegate count

Indiana has 72 delegates, North Carolina 115:

Obama —XX

Clinton —XX

Delegates needed to win nomination: 2,025

Total delegates seated at the Democratic National Convention: 4,048

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