easily won the Republican contest in Wisconsin, as well as a primary in Washington, putting him ever closer to wrapping up the GOP nomination.
Obama beat Clinton 58 percent to 41 percent in Wisconsin's Democratic contest. On the Republican side, McCain scored a commanding victory, 55 percent to 37 percent, over former Arkansas Gov.. In Washington, with 57 percent of the vote in, McCain led Huckabee 49 percent to 22 percent.
Obama also cruised to an easy victory in the Hawaii caucuses, taking 76 percent of the vote to Clinton's 24 percent. Obama had been widely expected to win the state, where he spent the first six years of his life.
CBS News exit polling of Wisconsin Democratic voters indicated that Obama made significant gains among groups long thought to be loyal to Clinton. Women voters and Catholics were equally split between the two, and Obama led Clinton among those without college degrees by 13 percentage points. He also edged her out among self-identified Democrats, 53 percent to 46 percent, and won 54 percent of the vote from those in households making less than $50,000 a year.
Meanwhile, Obama continued to dominate the groups that have favored him in the past, winning convincing majorities of men (67 percent), college graduates (60 percent) and those in households earning more than $50,000 a year (60 percent).
"In a presidential campaign marked mostly by sharp turns, surprising development and shattered predictions, the Democratic contest has now become a story of remarkable consistency," CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs wrote in hisof the Wisconsin outcome. "Tonight saw more of the same - more victories by Barack Obama, more erosion of support from the types of voters who once formed Hillary Clinton's base and more separation between the two. It's all making it more and more likely Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination." ( )
Tuesday's Democratic primary in Washington was a non-binding "beauty contest" - delegates there were allocated based on the results of Feb. 9 caucuses, which Obama won easily.
Obama led Clinton in the non-binding primary 50 percent to 47 percent with 57 percent of precincts reporting.
For the Democrats, Wisconsin offered 74 national convention delegates, and an early test of support in industrial states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
There were 20 delegates at stake in Hawaii, where neither Clinton nor Obama campaigned in person.
"I am grateful to the people of Wisconsin for their friendship and their support and their extraordinary civic pride," Obama said to supporters in Houston. "You know, in Wisconsin when you go to vote it's 5 degrees outside, but that has not deterred people from Milwaukee, to Green Bay, to Eau Claire, from all across the state from casting their ballot and exercising their civic duty." (
Clinton did not acknowledge the Wisconsin contest in a speech to supporters in Youngstown, Ohio, but did draw strong contrasts with her rival for the nomination.
"When I think about what we're really comparing in this election, you know, we can't just have speeches, we need to have solutions, and we need those solutions for America," she said. "While words matter, the best words in the world aren't enough unless you match them with action." (
Texas and Ohio both vote in primaries on March 4 that the former first lady's campaign has billed as the start of her political comeback. Including Obama's win in Wisconsin, she has lost nine contests in a row and hasn't been victorious since Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.
3850355Obama's momentum in the Democratic race was apparent in McCain's remarks, which included criticism of the Illinois senator's sweeping rhetoric, but no obvious references to Clinton.
"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change ... that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people," McCain said - a clear reference to Obama, whose soaring rhetoric has led critics, including McCain, to question whether he's all style and no substance.
"Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud," McCain added. (
He also keyed in on Obama's statements about foreign policy and his willingness to meet with leaders of rogue nations, painting him as a novice who would put the country in danger.
"Will the next president have the experience?" he asked. "Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?"
Last August, Obama had said if the United States had actionable intelligence about top terrorist targets in Pakistan and President Pervez Musharraf wouldn't act, the U.S. would. That pledge set off ripples of resentment in the relationship between Washington and Islamabad, prompting Pakistani officials to warn against U.S. incursions into their country.