Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama cast his chain of Super Tuesday wins as evidence that voters want someone who can change Washington and appeal to voters of both parties in the general election.
"We can do this! We can do this," Obama told supporters after collecting a string of wins that included his home state of Illinois as well as Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Utah and, apparently, a razor-thin victory in Missouri. He also triumphed in caucuses in Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota.
"We are the hope for the future," he said, "the answer to the cynics who tell us our house must stand divided."
Clinton answered Obama's wins with a string of victories of her own, prevailing at home in New York as well as in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona and Arkansas — where she was first lady for more than a decade. She also won the caucuses in American Samoa.
Her camp touted Clinton's win in Massachusetts as "the upset of the night," pointing out that voters there chose the former first lady despite endorsements for Obama by their own senators, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry.
Obama nonetheless exhorted his supporters to "go to work," saying the race is about pushing the country past divisions.
"It's a choice between having a debate with the other party about who has the most experience in Washington or about who can change Washington," Obama said. "Because that's a debate that we can win."
Obama improved his performance among some groups — particularly white male voters who favored him over Clinton by 5 percentage points. White males made up more than a quarter of Tuesday’s Democratic voters from coast to coast, according to early national exit polls.
He also increased his strength among women, with more than four in 10 supporting Obama. That represented a gain from most of the previous Democratic nominating contests this year, though he still trailed Clinton by almost 10 percentage points in both categories, a significant gap in a two-person race.