Illinois Senator Barack Obama increased his growing lead over rival New York Senator Hillary Clinton with a win in the Mississippi primary results yesterday.
Obama was strongly favoured to win, largely due to the high percentage of black Democratic voters in the state.
Clinton virtually conceded the state to Obama before voting even began and has shifted her focus to the upcoming battle for the Pennsylvania primary.
With less than 1 percent of precincts reporting in, CNN projected Barack Obama as the winner of the Mississippi Democratic primary based on exit polls and early voting results.
Exit polls from Mississippi showed strong support for Obama among the younger generation of voters.
According to a CNN exit poll, nearly 72 percent of voters in the 17 to 29 age range supported Obama, compared to only 28 percent for Clinton.
Clinton, however, played well with older voters, taking the support of 53 percent of those 60 and older.
Race also played a big part in the primary results.
Nine out of ten black voters supported Obama, according to exits polls by the Associated Press.
About seven in ten white voters supported Clinton. A majority of both men and women voted for Obama in the race.
Voters across the state of Mississippi began lining up at polling stations at 7am to cast their vote for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann predicted more voters would head to the polls on Tuesday than for the last presidential primary, according to USA Today.
Between 125,000 and 150,000 were expected to cast their ballots in the race.
Because Mississippi is an open primary, voters were not required to declare their party affiliations before voting.
This open process means Republicans and Independents could vote in the Democratic primary, though they would then be restricted from voting in the Republican contest.
Obama has campaigned heavily in Mississippi, making his last stop in the state on Tuesday morning before heading to Pennsylvania to prepare for the April 22nd primary there.
“We just haven’t seen as much opportunity come to this area as we’d like,” Obama told a small crowd at a restaurant in Greenville, according to the Associated Press.
“And one of the challenges, I think, for the next President is making sure that we’re serving all communities and not just some communities. I promise when I’m President of the United States, I’ll come back to the Delta.”
On Monday, Obama stirred crowds in Columbus and Jacksonville as he mocked the Clinton campaign for recent suggestions he would make a “dream ticket” Vice President for Hillary.
“I do not know how somebody who is in second place is offering the Vice Presidency to someone who is in first place,” he told supporters.
“You all know the okey-doke, when somebody is trying to bamboozle you, when they are trying to hoodwink you,” Obama said, according to USA Today.
“I am not running for Vice President. I am running for President of the United States of America.”
Clinton continues to play on her experience as her strength in competing against Obama’s inspirational messages, saying in a speech in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:
“The true test comes when it’s time to match rhetoric with results. And unfortunately, we’ve seen that Senator Obama’s promises and speeches are often just words.”
“If you’re going to talk,” Clinton stated, “you ought to mean what you say so people can count on it… There’s a big difference between talk and action.”
Obama, on the other hand, has been repeatedly critical of Clinton’s past history in politics.
Speaking in Jackson on Monday, he told a crowd of about 9,000 that the country does not need “the same old folks doing the same old things, talking the same old stuff.”
A total of 33 delegates are up for grabs in the Mississippi Democratic primary, with the majority expected to go to Obama.
However, Clinton could still walk away from the contest with a significant boost in delegates as they are awarded proportionally based on votes.
A win for Obama in Mississippi was crucial as his campaign is still stinging from dramatic losses to Clinton in the delegate-rich primaries of Ohio and Texas last week.
Obama did take home the victory in the Texas caucuses, adding more delegates to his tally. He also won in Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses.
Obama currently leads Clinton by about 100 delegates and is expected to strengthen that lead with his win in Mississippi.
However, Clinton is counting on a strong victory in Pennsylvania, where she leads in the polls, to narrow that margin.
Mississippi is also holding a Republican primary on Tuesday.
However, the contest is mostly superficial as Arizona Senator John McCain has already clinched the Republican presidential nomination for November.
McCain is currently working on fundraising for his Presidential run before heading to Europe and the Middle East next week on a tour.
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