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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Those Pesky Delegates

Clinton Now Looking Beyond S.C.
Focus on 4 Delegate-Rich States Is Considered Risky
Washington Post Staff Writers

SALINAS, Calif., Jan. 22 -- The next Democratic presidential nominating contest will take place in South Carolina on Saturday, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already turned her full attention to places such as this: delegate-rich pockets of states that will vote in a tidal wave of primaries two weeks from now.

Clinton has been focused on California, New York, New Jersey and Arkansas since her defeat in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, betting that she can sweep states where her name recognition and popularity are strong.

The logic seems simple: She represents New York in the Senate, and New Jersey is next door; she was the first lady of Arkansas for a decade; and California will be the biggest prize when 22 states vote on Feb. 5. But in a system that awards delegates by congressional district, with some worth more than others, the calculation is far from straightforward, and Clinton backers fear that the setup could boost Sen. Barack Obama if he fares well in populous corners of key states......

.....The Obama campaign's heavy emphasis on grass-roots organizing, which served it so well in Iowa, has led it to target the six states that will hold caucuses rather than primaries on Feb. 5. These are typically lightly attended affairs, but they could deliver big returns if Obama can follow his Iowa model of identifying a pool of supporters, including nontraditional participants such as college students and independents, and methodically turning them out.

The big three in that category are Colorado, Kansas and Minnesota. But the campaign also is active in North Dakota, where Obama has three offices; Alaska, where he has two; and Idaho, where he has one. To help balance out Clinton's edge with Democratic Party faithful, Obama is seeking endorsements in all six of the caucus states and may be close to securing the nod of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, sources close to the campaign said. (The Clinton team counters that the Feb. 5 caucus states are relatively unimportant, accounting for just 12 percent of the delegates who will be awarded that day.)....

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