Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary in West Virginia, solidly defeating Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., by one of her widest margins of victory of the primary contests.
"The dynamics of the race have become such that her win today doesn't necessarily change the playing field that much, given the few number of delegates at stake," Democratic strategist Paul Brathwaite said. West Virginia had 28 delegates up for grabs.
With 98 percent of the vote counted, Clinton trounced Obama with 67 percent of the vote to Obama's 26 percent. She was awarded 20 of the state's delegates, while Obama won eight. Those numbers, however, did little to cut into Obama's delegate lead.
Despite the pessimism about her prospects expressed by some, Clinton said after her victory that she has no intention of dropping out of the race.
"There are some wanted to cut this rate short," she said in Charleston, W.Va. "They say give up. It's too hard. The mountain is too high. But you in West Virginia know something about rough roads. ... My friends, the faith of the Mountain State has moved me. I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their vote heard."
While Clinton went to West Virginia today, Obama traveled to the traditional general election state of Missouri to demonstrate he is already focused on the general election.
"This is a state where we will compete to win when I am the Democratic nominee for president," Obama told supporters tonight at Cape Girareau Town Hall in Missouri.
"There is a lot of talk these days about how the Democratic Party is divided. But I'm not worried, because I know that we'll be able to come together quickly behind a common purpose. There's too much that unites us as Democrats. There's too much at stake for our country," Obama said.
However, Clinton's victory in West Virginia may fuel her argument that Obama isn't a viable general election candidate. The Mountain State has many of the white, Southern, rural, older, low-income and low-education voters who have flocked to Clinton's presidential candidacy in previous contests.
In a troubling sign for Obama, barely half of lower-income, low-education voters in the state said they'd vote for him in November if he's the party's nominee, according to preliminary exit poll results..
Perhaps suggesting an economic voting divide, Clinton voters were more likely than Obama supporters to say the economy was hurting their families a lot.
And, racially motivated voting appears to be running higher than usual, preliminary exit poll results suggest, with two in 10 white voters saying the race of the candidate was a factor in their vote. About 66 percent of those voters said they wouldn't support Obama in the general election against presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The demographics in West Virginia heavily favored Clinton, who has rebranded herself during the course of the campaign as a tireless champion of blue collar workers.
West Virginia is 95 percent white, has the highest percentage in the nation of people without a college education, and the second-highest percentage of older Americans, after Florida.