Sen. Barack Obama captured the Illinois and Georgia Democratic primaries Tuesday night while Hillary Clinton appeared headed for victory in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.
On the Republican side, John McCain won Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut but failed to beat Mitt Romney in Massachusetts after a big push there. Mike Huckabee won the West Virginia caucus and Arkansas.
In Georgia, exit polls showed black voters made up 52 percent and Obama captured 86 percent. But Obama also won 43 percent of the white vote, a sharp increase over the South Carolina results, a trend that could mean problems for Sen. Hillary Clinton in other states.
Among non African-American voters, Obama easily beat Clinton, garnering well over 50 percent.
John McCain hoped to seal the deal. Mitt Romney wanted to stay alive. Either outcome was possible.
Super Tuesday's coast-to-coast voting promised either to cap a turbulent yearlong campaign for the Republican presidential nomination by giving McCain enough convention delegates to make him unstoppable or to stretch the race out for weeks by putting Romney within reach of his chief rival's total.
Arizona Sen. John McCain challenged his remaining rivals for control of the Republican presidential race Tuesday in primaries and caucuses from Connecticut to California. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama vied for Democratic delegates in a grueling campaign with no end in sight.
After an early series of low-delegate, single-state contests, Super Tuesday was anything but — primaries and caucuses spread across nearly half the country in the most wide-open presidential campaign in memory.
Tom Effertz is 73 and a wheat farmer. Rosie Erganian is 52 and lives in a town on the Missouri River. He's a Republican. She's a Democrat. Both Missourians want anyone but Democrat Hillary Clinton for U.S. president.
"We're tired of the Hillary thing," Effertz said. "We'd had enough of Bill and Hillary."
"I do not like the way they've been kind of nasty," said Erganian, of Rocheport, Missouri. "I don't want anybody in office like that."
Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton fought for a breakout in their eyeball-to-eyeball Democratic duel while Republican John McCain hoped to bury his rival's presidential hopes in a blur of voting Tuesday from Alaska to the Atlantic.
An enormous cache of delegates was at stake — not enough to clinch a nomination but plenty enough to mint a runaway favorite, or even two.
The days of retail politicking in rustic diners was a distant memory, although just weeks old. Sens. Clinton and Obama each poured more than $1 million a day into TV ads in the last week alone; Clinton buying an hour on the Hallmark Channel for a town hall meeting on Monday night, Obama seeing some $250,000 disappear in 30 seconds in his Super Bowl ad a day earlier.
Independent voters are suddenly the hottest commodity in American politics.
Independents propelled Sen. John McCain to victory in New Hampshire and limited his losses to Mitt Romney in Michigan. They helped build Sen. Barack Obama's landslide victory in South Carolina. They will be up for grabs in Tuesday's Democratic primary in California -- but can't vote for a Republican.
And if they are popular with the candidates now, by this fall they will be courted as never before.
Why? What's going on?
Time stood still inside a corner storefront on Malcolm X Boulevard.
At Sen. Barack Obama's headquarters in Harlem, busy campaign volunteers stopped, stood and stared in amazement at the scene unfolding on the wide-screen television.
There he was, Sen. Ted Kennedy, a big, white embodiment of the Democratic political establishment, reaching out to embrace the man who could become the nation's first black president.
The top presidential candidates and their big-name supporters campaigned from coast to coast Sunday, but one contender seemed atop everyone's mind: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney contrasted themselves, and each other, with Clinton as though she were the nominee. Her Democratic rival, Barack Obama, played along to a degree, saying Clinton is so polarizing that he is their party's better bet.
Rather than diverting the less-than-flattering attention, Clinton embraced it.
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she might be willing to garnish the wages of workers who refuse to buy health insurance to achieve coverage for all Americans.
The New York senator has criticized presidential rival Barack Obama for pushing a health plan that would not require universal coverage. Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed on ABC's "This Week," she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."
It's part of Mitt Romney's core narrative: Massachusetts, in the throes of a fiscal freefall, fell back on his CEO skills and turnaround wizardry to spark — in his words — "a dramatic reversal of state fortunes and a period of sustained economic expansion."
It's a rosy opinion of Massachusetts' economy that few in the state share. Instead, observers say, the state's recovery from a disastrous 2001 recession has been tepid at best, and Romney gives himself more credit than deserved on job creation and balancing the state budget.