WASHINGTON (AP) — With a six-week breather before the next primary, Hillary Rodham Clinton turned her attention to Pennsylvania and beyond to counter the latest in a string of victories by Barack Obama in Southern states with large black voting blocs.
Obama won roughly 90 percent of the black vote in Mississippi on Tuesday, but only about one-quarter of the white vote. That was similar to the breakdown that helped him win South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana before losing to Clinton in Texas and Ohio, which has similar voter demographics to neighboring Pennsylvania.
"We have now basically recovered whatever delegates we may have lost in Texas and Ohio, and we have a substantial lead," Obama said Wednesday morning during a round of television network interviews.
Maggie Williams, Clinton's campaign manager, congratulated Obama on his victory in a written statement.
"Now we look forward to campaigning in Pennsylvania and around the country," Williams said.
Obama, in claiming his victory in Mississippi, said he expects to be the Democratic nominee and "the party is going to be unified."
Clinton was attending a presidential forum in Washington on Wednesday. Obama planned to be in his hometown of Chicago.
With 99 percent of the vote counted, Obama had 61 percent to 37 percent for Clinton.
Republican Sen. John McCain, who has already won enough delegates to claim the GOP nomination, rolled up 79 percent of the vote in Mississippi.
Obama picked up at least 17 of Mississippi's 33 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, with five more to be awarded. He hoped for a win sizable enough to erase most if not all of Clinton's 11-delegate gain from last week, when she won three primaries.
The Illinois senator had 1,596 delegates to 1,484 for Clinton. It takes 2,025 to win the nomination. With neither appearing able to win enough delegates through primaries and caucuses to claim the nomination, the importance of nearly 800 elected officials and party leaders who will attend the national convention as unelected superdelegates is increasing.
Obama leads Clinton among pledged delegates, 1,385-1,237 in The Associated Press count, while the former first lady has an advantage among superdelegates, 247-211.
Blacks, who also supported Obama in overwhelming numbers in earlier primaries, accounted for roughly half the ballots cast in Mississippi, according to interviews with voters leaving polling places. About one in six Democratic primary voters were independents, and Clinton and Obama split their support. Another 10 percent of voters were Republican, and they preferred Clinton by a margin of 3-1.
Exit polls showed blacks accounted for a majority of the ballots in all but Louisiana, where they represented a plurality. Obama's share of the black vote in those states ranged from 78 percent in South Carolina to 88 percent in Georgia, while Clinton won the white vote with ease.
Other than Pennsylvania, the remaining primaries are in Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.