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a slight 98 to 95 victory in pledged delegates. Factoring in Texas’ 35 superdelegates left the two in a 107 to 107 tie with 14 superdelegates unpledged at that time.17 Clinton and Obama traded victories over the next several months. Without the delegates from Michigan and Florida, neither candidate could claim the majority necessary to clinch the nomination. Delegates from those states were seated with half votes in May. On June 3, the day of the final two primaries in Montana and South Dakota, Obama crossed the majority threshold and could finally claim the nomination. Analyzing the Nomination Races Every election cycle, observers of campaign politics speculate on the conditions necessary to arrive at the party convention with the nomination still undecided. That parlor game nearly became reality in 2008. It seemed to many that a frontloaded system would not allow a sustained nomination battle. The 2008 Democratic race proved that a long nomination fight was still possible, and the Republican race lasted longer than many expected it to. The Democrats What accounts for Obama’s nomination victory? Certainly some credit must go to the organization and execution of his campaign. With record campaign funds at his disposal, the Illinois senator could create organizational infrastructure and run advertisements in areas that were typically off limits to Democratic candidates. Accumulating small numbers of delegates in Wyoming or Utah or the United States territories of Guam or Puerto Rico mattered in this election cycle. Attention to detail made a difference , too. Rep. Jason Altmire, a first-term member of Congress from Pennsylvania and a superdelegate by virtue of his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, told a National Public Radio interviewer that “Senator Obama first called me in June 2007 and asked for my support. At that time, no one thought Pennsylvania would be relevant. No one thought superdelegates would be relevant. He was already thinking to the long term.” Clinton’s campaign, in contrast, did not ask for Altmire’s support until early March of 2008 after it became clear that every delegate mattered .18 While Obama was surging out of nowhere, most observers thought that the nomination was Clinton’s to lose, and she did. Her campaign 28 ★ John A. Clark organization and strategy were focused as much on the general election as on the nomination phase of the campaign. When it became apparent that she would not be able to wrap up the nomination quickly, she was forced to loan her campaign five million dollars to stay competitive, an amount that grew to a total of thirteen million dollars over the course of the campaign.19 Clinton rebounded in March and stayed close through the late contests, but she was not able to close the gap in delegates or in the perception that she still could win the nomination. The southern states proved to be crucial to Obama’s victory. He won seven of the states represented in this volume, compared to only four for Clinton. Obama ran especially well in the Deep South states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. African American voters made up roughly half of the primary electorate in each of these states, and Obama won between 78 percent and 92 percent of their votes (in South Carolina and Mississippi, respectively). Even with strong support from white voters, the margin was too large for Clinton to overcome . It is important to remember that black voters did not simply support Obama because of his race. Survey results suggest that African Americans flocked to the Obama candidacy only after he demonstrated he could win the support of white voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. This behavior is consistent with the theory that black voters —like other groups in primary elections—want to select the candidate who will best represent their interests and have the best chance of winning the general election.20 The importance of the South to the Obama campaign can be demonstrated by examining his delegate support in the region compared to the rest of the country. Omitting Florida because of the uncertain status of its delegates, Obama won 499 pledged delegates in the South, compared to 386 for Clinton, giving him a margin of 113. The rest of the country delivered a margin of only fifteen pledged delegates to the eventual nominee. Conventional wisdom holds that a divisive primary battle weakens the likelihood that the eventual nominee can win the general election.21 Fears that Clinton supporters...


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