[Photo by VIC SUEDE]
ASSOCIATED PRESS: WASHINGTON — Sen. Barack Obama swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington state Saturday night, slicing into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s slender delegate lead in their historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Illinois senator also won caucuses in the Virgin Islands, completing his best night of the campaign. Obama’s winning margins ranged from substantial to crushing. He won roughly two-thirds of the vote in Washington state and Nebraska, and almost 90 percent in the Virgin Islands. Late Louisiana returns showed Obama with 55 percent of the vote, to 39 percent for the former first lady. As in his earlier Southern triumphs in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, Obama, a black man, rode a wave of African-American support to victory in Louisiana. Clinton won the white vote overwhelmingly. In all, the Democrats scrapped for 161 delegates in the night’s contests. In initial allocations, Obama won 59, Clinton 29. In overall totals in The Associated Press count, Clinton had 1,084 delegates to 1,057 for Obama. A total of 2,025 is required to win the nomination at the national convention in Denver. MORE
RELATED: As a group, the “superdelegates,” a category created by party leaders in 1982 to give elected officials more clout in the nominating process, constitute a prize worth twice as much as the state of California. Though Clinton and Obama have pursued the support of superdelegates for a year, the courtships have intensified in recent weeks as it has become clear that the two are locked in a virtual dead heat for delegate support. Party insiders say this could be the first campaign in more than two decades that reaches the national convention in August without a clear nominee, making the votes of superdelegates — a group made up of current and former top elected officials and Democratic National Committee (DNC) members from around the nation — potentially decisive. So far, 213 superdelegates have publicly committed to backing Clinton and 139 have pledged their support to Obama, according to a survey by the Associated Press. The potential for superdelegates to play a critical role has some party leaders worried that the situation could lend the appearance that the nominee will be selected by insiders rather than by rank-and-file voters.
RELATED: JOHN EDWARDS IN PRE-ENDORSEMENT CONVERSATIONS WITH REMAINING DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES. HELD SECRET MEETING WITH HILLARY CLINTON ON THURSDAY IN CHAPEL HILL. SCHEDULED TO SIT DOWN THERE WITH BARACK OBAMA MONDAY.