May 6, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Barack Obama swept to victory in the North Carolina primary on Tuesday but fell behind Hillary Rodham Clinton in Indiana, the last big-delegate prizes left in their long race
for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama's win mirrored earlier triumphs in Southern states with large black populations, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina among them.
The Associated Press made its North Carolina call based on surveys of voters as they left the polls.
That made Indiana a virtual must-win Midwestern state for the former first lady, who was hoping to counter Obama's persistent delegate advantage with a strong run through the late primaries.
Returns from 21 percent of the Indiana precincts showed Clinton with 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Obama.
The economy was the top issue by far in both states, according to interviews with voters as they left their polling places.
Indiana exit polls charted a racial divide that has become familiar in a long, historic campaign pitting a black man against a white woman.
Obama was gaining more than 90 percent of the black vote in Indiana, while Clinton was winning an estimated 61 percent of the white vote there, running ahead of her rival among white men as well as women.
She also had 51 percent of independents' votes, to 49 for her rival, a statistical tie, and was winning among Democrats, 53-47.
In North Carolina, Clinton won 60 percent of the white vote, but Obama claimed support from roughly 90 percent of the blacks who cast ballots.
The impact of a long-running controversy over Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was difficult to measure.
In North Carolina, six in 10 voters who said Wright's incendiary comments affected their votes sided with Clinton. A somewhat larger percentage of voters who said the pastor's remarks did not matter supported Obama.
The effect of Clinton's call for a summertime suspension of the federal gasoline tax - which dominated the final days of the two primaries - was impossible to judge.
The questionnaire used to learn about voter motivation did not include any questions about the gasoline tax.
In Indiana, about one in five voters said they were independents, an additional one in 10 said Republican.
Only Democrats and unaffiliated voters were permitted to vote in North Carolina.
Voting in Indiana was carried out under a state law, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, that requires voters to produce a valid photo ID. About a dozen nuns in their 80s and 90s at St. Mary's Convent in South Bend were denied ballots because they lacked the necessary identification.
Obama began the day with 1,745.5 delegates, to 1,608 for Clinton, out of 2,025 needed for the nomination.