McCain relishes win in Wisconsin

Sen. John McCain moved closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, winning delegates in Wisconsin and competing for more in the state of Washington.

Sen. Barack Obama extended his delegate lead by winning the Democratic primary in Wisconsin.

McCain won 13 delegates by carrying the popular vote in Wisconsin, with 24 delegates still to be awarded. There were 19 GOP delegates at stake in Washington.

Overall, McCain had 921 delegates and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had 245. It will take 1,191 delegates to claim the Republican nomination at this summer’s national convention.

Huckabee faces a nearly impossible task. He is close to needing help from Mitt Romney’s former delegates just to remain a viable candidate. Romney has withdrawn from the race and endorsed McCain. But the former Massachusetts governor has little authority over his 253 delegates, most of whom will be free agents at the convention.

Obama won at least 13 delegates by carrying Wisconsin, with 61 still to be awarded. The Democrats also had 20 delegates at stake in Hawaii caucuses, but none in the Washington primary.

In the overall race for the nomination, Sen. Barack Obama leads with 1,294 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had 1,218.

The Associated Press tracks the delegate races by calculating the number of national convention delegates won by candidates in each presidential primary or caucus, based on state and national party rules, and by interviewing unpledged delegates to obtain their preferences.

Most primaries and some caucuses are binding, meaning delegates won by the candidates are pledged to support that candidate at the national conventions this summer.

Political parties in some states, however, use multistep procedures to award national delegates. Typically, such states use local caucuses to elect delegates to state or congressional district conventions, where national delegates are selected. In these states, the AP uses the results from local caucuses to calculate the number of national delegates each candidate will win, if the candidate’s level of support at the caucus doesn’t change.