Clinton Cruises To West Virginia Win

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., acknowledges supporters at her West Virginia Primary night rally Tuesday, May 13, 2008, at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va.
AP
Hillary Rodham Clinton easily defeated Barack Obama in the West Virginia Democratic primary. Clinton won by a sizable margin, taking 67 percent of the vote to Obama's 26 percent.

"There are some who have wanted to cut this race short," Clinton said at a victory rally in Charleston, West Virginia. "They say, 'Give up. It's too hard. The mountain is too high.' But here in West Virginia, you know a thing or two about rough roads to the top of the mountain." (

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"I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard," Clinton told the cheering crowd. "This race isn't over yet. Neither of us has the total delegates it takes to win."


West Virginia Results

Obama conceded defeat in the state in advance as he looked ahead to the Oregon primary later in the month and the campaign against Republican John McCain.

"There is no question that Senator Clinton is going to win by huge margins in the upcoming primaries in West Virginia today and Kentucky [next Tuesday]," the Obama campaign wrote in a statement released to the media on Tuesday. "…But with 49 contests behind us and only six to go -- including several states where we expect to do well -- Barack Obama leads in pledged delegates, contests won, and superdelegates."

Clinton won with nearly every demographic group, according to exit polls, including men, women, young voters, older voters, people earning less than $50,000 a year and those earning more than that. (Click here to see the full exit poll data.)

Obama won the support of those who said "change" was the quality they were most looking for, those who said the gas tax should not be suspended and those who said that Obama does not share the views of his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

"While Clinton's decisive West Virginia win doesn't change the overall direction of a race that is lurching toward an end, it won't help Obama in his transition to a general election campaign," said CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs. "And there are continuing signs which, if not a threat to his ability to win the nomination, can't be comforting for him or his party."
(Click here to read Ververs' full analysis).

West Virginia voters viewed Clinton as the candidate with the best chance of beating McCain in the general election. Sixty percent thought Clinton could beat McCain, while 37 percent though Obama could win in November.

Seventy percent of West Virginia Democratic voters describe Clinton as sharing their own values, while only 47 percent said that Obama does.

Clinton's aides contended that her strength with blue collar voters - already demonstrated in primaries in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana - prove that she would be the more electable candidate in the fall.

Even before the polls closed, spokesman Mo Elleithee said the primary showed voters "don't want to be told that this thing is over. The people of West Virginia rejected the rush to call this thing over. They sent a very clear message tonight that Hillary Clinton is the best person to take on John McCain in the fall."

Just 24 percent of Clinton voters in the West Virginia primary say they would be satisfied if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee. Seventy-four percent of Clinton supporters would be dissatisfied with Obama carrying the Democratic banner -- the highest number in the primaries to date.

Forty-two percent of West Virginia's Obama voters say they would be satisfied if Clinton becomes the nominee, and 56 percent would be dissatisfied. That level of dissatisfaction is similar to what it was in Indiana when 50 percent of Obama voters said they would be dissatisfied if Clinton was the nominee.

Looking ahead to the general election, 37 percent of Clinton voters in West Virginia say they would vote for Obama if he becomes the nominee, while 34 percent plan to vote for McCain and 25 percent say they won't vote at all. Fifty-four percent of Obama voters in West Virginia say they would vote for Clinton if she's the nominee, 28 percent plan to vote for McCain and 15 percent say they'll stay home in November.

The controversy over Obama's former pastor Rev. Wright seems to have resonated in West Virginia, where 49 percent of Democratic voters think Obama shares Wright's views and 49 percent say he does not.

Seventy-eight percent of Clinton voters think the race for the Democratic nomination should continue until she wins, while 17 percent think the race should end as soon as possible, even if Clinton doesn't win.

Voters also went to the polls in Nebraska on Tuesday, but no Democratic delegates were awarded there since there was a caucus in the state in February, which Obama won. Obama also won the nonbinding "beauty contest" on Tuesday, 49 percent to 47 percent. (Click here to see Nebraska results.)

McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, won handily in GOP primaries in West Virginia and Nebraska.

Obama campaigned lightly in West Virginia, focusing instead on the Oregon primary later in the month and the fall campaign against McCain.

"This is our chance to build a new majority of Democrats and independents and Republicans who know that four more years of George Bush just won't do," Obama said in Missouri, which looms as a battleground state in the fall.

"This is our moment to turn the page on the divisions and distractions that pass for politics in Washington," added the man seeking to become the fist black presidential nominee of a major party.

Clinton had picked up 16 delegates from her West Virginia win, while Obama added six to his tally.

According to the latest CBS News count, Obama had a total of 1,879 delegates (of which 1,595 are pledged and 284 are nonbinding superdelegates) to 1,710 for Clinton (1,439 of them pledged and 271 are superdelegates). A candidate needs 2,025 to clinch the nomination at the party convention in Denver this summer. (Click here for the full state-by-state tally.)

The delegate tally aside, the former first lady struggled to overcome an emerging Democratic consensus that Obama effectively wrapped up the nomination last week with a victory in the North Carolina primary and a narrow loss in Indiana.

In the days since, close to 30 superdelegates have swung behind Obama, evidence that party officials were beginning to coalesce around the first-term Illinois senator. Three of his new supporters formerly backed Clinton, who surrendered her lead in superdelegates late last week for the first time since the campaign began.

With her campaign more than $20 million in debt, Clinton desperately needs to raise money following her West Virginia win, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod. On Wednesday, she's calling her top fundraisers to her Washington home to see if there is a way out of her campaign's dire financial shape.

The former first lady spent parts of several days campaigning in West Virginia in search of victory.

She refrained from criticizing Obama directly, but had a cautionary word nonetheless for party leaders who seemed eager to pivot to the fall campaign. "I keep telling people, no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia," she said at Tudor's Biscuit World in the state's capital city.

Obama was in the state on Monday, but it was clear he was looking beyond the primary.

He said several days ago he expected Clinton to win by significant margins both in West Virginia and Kentucky, which holds its primary next week. And on Monday, he tried to set the bar of expectations exceedingly low, suggesting that anything above 20 percent would constitute a good showing.