Sunday, March 9, 2008

Barack Obama has won the Wyoming Democratic caucus Saturday, furthering his delegate lead in the close race against Hillary Clinton.

Obama had 61 percent of the vote, beating out Clinton's 38 percent. 7 of Wyoming's 12 pledged delegates will to go to Obama, while 5 will go to Clinton. This would put Obama's delegate count at 1,578 and Clinton's at 1,468, according to the Associated Press. 2,025 delegates are needed to seal the nomination.

"This is a very important win for us," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. "I think it's evidence that Senator Obama is going to be able to put more states in play because of his strength with independent voters."

Clinton's campaign manager called the caucus a "near split in delegates" and thanked supporters for coming out to vote. "Although the Obama campaign predicted victory in Wyoming weeks ago, we worked hard to present Senator Clinton's vision to the caucus-goers and we thank them for turning out today," she said.

With a largely Republican voting base, Wyoming has usually been ignored by Democratic candidates. But in this caucus, excitement was evident in the unusually high turnout, which resulted in long lines, packed rooms, and late arrivals that had to be turned away. "I'm worried about where we're going to put them all," said Joyce Corcoran, a local party official. "But I guess everybody's got the same problem."

Both Obama and Clinton were campaigning in Wyoming the day before the caucus. At town hall meeting in Casper, Obama criticized Clinton's 2002 authorization of the Iraq War, and defended against Clinton's accusations that he wouldn't immediately pull troops out of Iraq if elected.

"I will bring this war to an end in 2009, so don't be confused ... when Senator Clinton is not willing to acknowledge that she voted for war," Obama said. "I don't want to play politics on this issue, because she doesn't have standing to question my position on this issue."

The candidates' presence in Wyoming came as a surprise to many, including Democratic Party spokesman Bill Luckett. "Seriously, I never imagined when I took this job that we would see the day when the two front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination would hold events in Wyoming on the eve of our county caucuses," he said.

The next Democratic contest will be the Mississippi primary on Tuesday, where there are 33 pledged delegates at stake.