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McCain, Obama continue momentum

MADISON, Wis. (BP)–John McCain easily won the Wisconsin Republican primary Feb. 19 despite not winning the evangelical vote, while Barack Obama won among weekly churchgoers to claim the state’s Democratic primary and continue his streak of wins since Super Tuesday.

McCain won Wisconsin with 55 percent of the vote to Mike Huckabee’s 37 percent, claiming all 31 delegates in the winner-take-all state. But Huckabee won among GOP voters who claim to be evangelical, 56 percent to McCain’s 36 percent, according to exit polls. The fact that evangelicals comprised only 38 percent of GOP voters — compared to some states where they make up a major of Republicans — limited their impact.

McCain also won Washington state; with 57 percent of the vote counted McCain led Huckabee 49-22 percent. No exit polls were conducted there.

On the Democratic side, Obama won his ninth and 10th straight races with victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii. He beat Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary, 58-41 percent, and in the Hawaii caucuses, 76-24 percent. Obama has not lost a race since he and Clinton battled to a draw on Super Tuesday. Obama won among weekly churchgoers in Wisconsin, 56 percent to Clinton’s 44 percent; weekly churchgoers made up 33 percent of Democratic voters in the state. No exit polls were conducted in Hawaii. [The major media outlets do not include a question asking Democratic voters if they are professing evangelicals.]

The wins gave Obama a 1,356-1,267 lead in the delegate count, heading into Thursday’s Democratic debate, according to RealClearPolitics.com. Either candidate needs 2,025 delegates to win the nomination.

Among Republicans, McCain needs 1,191 delegates to win the nomination and has 967, according to the same website. Huckabee has 245 delegates.

During his victory speech, McCain looked ahead to a possible general election contest with Obama and criticized the senator from Illinois without mentioning him by name.

“I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people,” McCain said. “Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud.”

Obama gave his speech in Texas — where Clinton has led in recent polls — and underscored his desire to win the delegate-rich state.

“The change we seek is still months and miles away, and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there,” he said.

The Republican and Democratic campaigns now move to Texas and Ohio, both of which vote March 4. Clinton led by two and five points in two Texas polls released this week and by nine points in an Ohio poll Tuesday. On the Republican side, McCain led Huckabee in Ohio by 32 points in a SurveyUSA poll and by 13 points in Texas in a poll by the same company; both polls were released Tuesday.

Huckabee hopes to get back on track in Texas with its strong base of evangelicals and social conservatives.

“Texas is a state where independence matters a lot,” he said the day after his loss in Wisconsin, according to CNN. “People there don’t like to be told what to do, how to think, how to vote. I think we’ll find a very welcome atmosphere.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor for Baptist Press.

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