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Analysis: Obama continues to chip away at Clinton's base

  • Story Highlights
  • Barack Obama wins in Wisconsin and Hawaii
  • Obama sways Clinton's base of blue-collar, older, working-class voters
  • Clinton hopes to make comeback next week in Ohio, Texas
  • John McCain wins Wisconsin, remaining Washington state delegates
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By John Helton
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(CNN) -- If Ohio and Texas weren't already must-win states for Sen. Hillary Clinton, they certainly are now.

Sen. Barack Obama is swaying away the core parts of Sen. Hillary Clinton's voter base.

Sen. Barack Obama continued his winning streak since Super Tuesday two weeks ago, picking up his ninth and tenth states in a row -- Wisconsin and Hawaii.

But as significant as Obama's accelerating momentum is how he is increasingly swaying voters that Clinton could count on at the beginning of February.

While Obama has been solidifying his base of younger, college-educated, higher-paid voters, he has steadily been chipping away Clinton's base of blue-collar, older, working-class voters.

On Tuesday, Obama captured 53 percent of Wisconsin's white voters compared to 41 percent of those voting on Super Tuesday. He won 48 percent of women in Wisconsin compared to 41 percent on Super Tuesday.

He increased his standing with white seniors by 8 points, from 31 percent to 39 percent since Super Tuesday. He split the non-college-graduate vote 50-50 with Clinton compared to getting 42 percent of it on Super Tuesday. Video Watch how Obama is swaying Clinton's core voters »

Democratic Debate
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama face each other in Texas in a live debate
8 p.m. ET Thursday

Obama won almost half of the Catholic vote compared to a third of it two weeks ago, and he did the same thing with the rural vote.

He also seems to be taking the economy away from Clinton as an issue. He won 44 percent of those voters who said that was the most important issue for them on Super Tuesday, but he won 55 percent of those voters on Tuesday. Video Watch how exit polls favor Obama »

Obama also scored a projected win in the Hawaii Democratic caucuses, the state where he was born and still has family. There were 20 delegates at stake in that race.

Heading into Wisconsin, most thought the contest was a toss-up. Obama's sweeping win there Tuesday can't be encouraging for the Clinton camp heading into Ohio as there are a lot of similarities between the blue-collar, Rust Belt states.

If the demographic trends continue, it doesn't look good in Texas. Obama won the Latino vote in Maryland and Virginia last week, a segment of the electorate that was solidly in the Clinton camp at the beginning of the race.

Polls in Texas show the contest there being a dead heat, but they showed the same thing in Wisconsin. The two Democratic candidates will both be in Texas Thursday night for a live debate on CNN at 8 p.m. ET.

Clinton's post-primary speech on Tuesday might be setting the tone for the next two weeks. She says Obama is offering rhetoric while she's offering solutions.

On Tuesday, she told a crowd in Ohio that the Democratic race is "about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on work."

Obama was also the focus of part of Republican Sen. John McCain's victory speech on Tuesday. While not mentioning Obama by name, he suggested the general election would be a choice between his experience and the "confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate."

McCain won the Republican primary in Wisconsin and the remaining half of Washington state's delegates in the primary. However, he still can't convince conservatives to line up behind his candidacy.

While McCain won convincingly over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Wisconsin, half of the voters in the state who called themselves "very conservative" favored Huckabee, compared to 40 percent for McCain.


McCain got half of the voters who characterized themselves as "somewhat conservative" and two-thirds of the voters who called themselves moderates.

In addition, while 76 percent of Republican voters said they would be satisfied with McCain as their party's nominee, 44 percent of them said he wasn't conservative enough. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Bill Schneider and Alan Silverleib contributed to this story

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