Hillary Clinton appeared headed to a big West Virginia victory over frontrunner Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday, although it could be too late to turn around her faltering White House bid. Clinton has an advantage of at least 20 points in most opinion polls in West Virginia.
Hillary Clinton appeared headed to a big West Virginia victory over frontrunner Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday, although it could be too late to turn around her faltering White House bid.
Clinton has an advantage of at least 20 points in most opinion polls in West Virginia, a bastion of the white working-class voters who have become her strongest supporters in the gruelling battle for the Democratic nomination.
But Obama retains a nearly insurmountable advantage in delegates who will select the nominee at the party convention in August. A big win in West Virginia for the cash-strapped Clinton will make barely a dent in Obama’s advantage.
West Virginia has just 28 delegates at stake in Tuesday’s voting, which ends at 7.30pm local time. Results are expected shortly afterward.
Clinton, a New York senator who has vowed to keep fighting despite her dwindling prospects and a mounting campaign debt, spent the day in West Virginia on Monday and showed no sign she was ready to step aside so Obama could focus on a November match-up with Republican John McCain.
“West Virginia is a real indicator of which way the political winds are going to go,” she said at a rally in Logan, West Virginia. Clinton said her wins in crucial big states like Ohio and Pennsylvania made her a better choice against McCain.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe that I could be the best president for West Virginia and America, and that I was the stronger candidate to take on John McCain in the fall,” she said.
Obama, already looking to November, made a quick appearance in West Virginia on Monday and announced plans to visit general election battlegrounds Missouri, Michigan and Florida over the next week.
“The Democrats are going to unify, and we’re trying to get some independents and we’re trying to get some Republicans,” Obama said at an evening rally in Louisville, Kentucky, which holds a nominating contest on May 20.
Democrats expect party unity
Despite calls from some Democratic officials for Clinton to quit, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found nearly two-thirds of national Democrats say there is no rush for Clinton to get out of the race.
Even 42% of Obama’s supporters said Clinton should remain to the end of voting on June 3, rejecting the idea that a prolonged race would hurt the party. The poll found 85% of Democrats were confident the party would come together once it settled on a nominee.
After West Virginia, five more contests remain in the Democratic nominating battle with a combined 189 delegates at stake. Oregon and Kentucky vote on May 20, while Puerto Rico votes on June 1 and Montana and South Dakota vote on June 3.
An MSNBC count gives Obama 1 869 delegates to Clinton’s 1 703, leaving him 156 short of the 2 025 needed to clinch the nomination. But neither can win without help from superdelegates—nearly 800 party officials who are free to back any candidate.
Obama has been gaining ground among superdelegates for weeks. He picked up four more on Monday and now has a narrow lead over Clinton among superdelegates, with less than 250 still uncommitted.—Reuters