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Obama takes Oregon; Clinton wins Kentucky

  • Story Highlights
  • Obama captures majority of pledged delegates
  • Obama: "Most important part of our journey still lies ahead"
  • Clinton wins Kentucky across all age, education, income groups, polls show
  • Clinton voters in Kentucky more likely to back McCain than Obama, polls show


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(CNN) -- Despite Hillary Clinton's landslide victory in Kentucky, Barack Obama has won a majority of pledged delegates in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Clinton won Kentucky by more than 30 points, but Obama's share of the state's 51 delegates was enough put him over the threshold, according to CNN estimates.

Obama is expected to pick up at least 14 delegates in Kentucky, and by CNN estimates, that will give him 1,627 of the 3,253 pledged delegates at stake in all of primaries and caucuses.

Obama will also pick up a win in Oregon, CNN projects, giving him the larger share of the state's 52 delegates.

Obama's top strategist, David Axelrod, said getting the pledged delegate majority was an "important milestone," but not the end of the trail.

Neither candidate is expected to reach the 2,026 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination.

That means the race is likely to be settled by "superdelegates" -- party leaders and officials who will cast votes at the Democratic convention in August.

Speaking in Iowa, where he won the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Obama told supporters, "it was in this great state where we took the first steps of an unlikely journey to change America." Video Watch Obama say he's in reach of the nomination »

"The skeptics predicted we wouldn't get very far. The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope. And by the fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out. But the people of Iowa had a different idea," he said.

Obama continued to look to the general election, focusing his attacks as he has for the past week on Sen. John McCain, while commending Clinton for "her courage, her commitment and her perseverance."

Obama said McCain's policies don't represent change.

"This year's Republican primary was a contest to see which candidate could out-Bush the other, and that is the contest John McCain won," he said.

McCain's camp accused Obama of launching "the tired old political attacks of a typical politician, not the 'new politics' he's promised."

"Without a doubt, Barack Obama is a talented political orator, but his naive plans for unconditional summits with rogue leaders and support for big tax hikes on hardworking families expose his bad judgment that Americans can ill-afford in our next president," spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement.

After Kentucky's results came in, Clinton thanked her supporters for handing her a win "even in the face of some pretty tough odds."

"Tonight we have achieved an important victory," she said in Louisville.

"It's not just Kentucky bluegrass that's music to my ears. It's the sound of your overwhelming vote of confidence even in the face of some pretty tough odds." Video Watch Clinton vow to keep going »

Clinton beat Obama across all age groups, income groups and education levels in Kentucky.

Eighty-nine percent of Tuesday's voters in Kentucky were white, according to the exit polls. Among them, Clinton won 72-22 percent. Nine percent of the voters were African-American and they overwhelmingly broke for Obama, 87-7 percent.

The exit polls from Kentucky also suggest a deep division among Democrats. Video Watch how Clinton's win could affect the race »

Two-thirds of Clinton's supporters there said they would vote Republican or not vote at all rather than for Obama, according to the polls.

Forty-one percent of Clinton supporters said they'd cast their vote for McCain, and 23 percent said they would not vote at all.

Just 33 percent said they would back Obama in the general election, according to the polls.

Those numbers are even worse for Obama than in West Virginia one week ago, where 36 percent of Clinton voters said they would back him in the fall.

Obama on Tuesday downplayed the idea that his party will have trouble unifying once there is a nominee.

"Some may see the millions upon millions of votes cast for each of us as evidence that our party is divided, but I see it as proof that we have never been more energized and united in our desire to take this country in a new direction," he said.

"More than anything, we need this unity and this energy in the months to come, because while our primary has been long and hard-fought, the hardest and most important part of our journey still lies ahead."

Obama leads Clinton in the number of states won and in the popular vote in the primary and caucus contests this campaign season, but he has been careful not to declare victory in the Democratic contest.

Obama doesn't have enough delegates to capture the nomination outright; Clinton still has a chance, if a slight one, to win the nomination if enough of the roughly 800 superdelegates were to back her.

"I'm going to make [my case] until we have a nominee, but we're not going to have one today, and we're not going to have one tomorrow, and we're not going to have one the next day," Clinton said Monday in Kentucky.

She argues that she leads in the popular vote, but her argument is debatable.

For Clinton to claim such a lead, primary states but not caucus states -- which Obama mostly won -- would only be counted, plus the popular vote totals in Florida and Michigan.

Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates for scheduling their primaries too early, in violation of Democratic Party rules. Obama's name wasn't on the Michigan ballot, and he received no votes in that state's contest.

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Clinton also argues that she's won the states that she contends would stack up stronger against McCain in the general election.

"The states I've won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans, I would be nominee right now," she said. "We have different rules, so what we've got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes."

CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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