Cover Story

2004 democratic primaries

Super Tuesday wrap-up

Issue: "John Kerry's dream," March 13, 2004

OHIO This was Sen. Edwards's last big chance to show he could win outside the South. His poll numbers were rising, but he couldn't overtake the front-runner's huge lead. Sen. Kerry won big in the cities, thanks to strong support from black voters (67 percent) and union members (60 percent). Among independent voters, however, Sen. Edwards eked out a narrow plurality, 41 percent to 38 percent. That renewed fears that Sen. Kerry won't play well in the general election, when independent suburban voters become all-important.

GEORGIA By losing Georgia, where he spent seven of the past 14 days, Sen. Edwards undermined his credibility as even a regional candidate. The race was close, however, and Sen. Kerry relied almost exclusively on the black urban vote to counterbalance Sen. Edwards's advantage among rural voters. That's bad news for the party: Al Gore followed the same pattern in 2000, and Georgia-like the rest of the South-went for George Bush.

CALIFORNIA Although 370 delegates were at stake, California was all but ignored by the candidates. In a state that's too big for campaigning in person and too expensive for campaigning on the airwaves, the "front-runner" label made all the difference. Sen. Edwards never ran a single ad on TV or radio, allowing Sen. Kerry-who spent just a single day in the state-to win handily. Sen. Edwards would likely have performed a little better had his campaign not announced his withdrawal from the race hours before the polls closed on the West Coast.

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NEW YORK Voters in the economically depressed Upstate were thought to be receptive to Sen. Edwards's protectionist message, but the underdog didn't have the time or money to get that message out. An anemic Edwards campaign left little suspense as to the winner, and only a small fraction (15 percent) of the state's 5 million registered Democrats bothered to go to the polls. As in the South and Midwest, Sen. Kerry racked up huge wins among black voters, beating even Al Sharpton among Rev. Sharpton's presumed base. After capturing just 8 percent in his home state, the sometime minister looked certain to follow Sen. Edwards in exiting the race.

MINNESOTA One of three states Sen. Edwards thought he might win, Minnesota became even more interesting when top leaders of the Dean campaign lent their support-and their huge e-mail list-to the North Carolina senator. But not even the Deaniacs were enough to overcome Sen. Kerry's momentum and union support. Besides the size of the Kerry win, the night's big surprise was the unexpectedly high turnout: Energized by their chance to play a significant role in the nomination process, more than 35,000 Democrats showed up to vote, nearly three times the turnout of 2000. That kind of enthusiasm doesn't bode well for the GOP in a state that hasn't voted Republican since Richard Nixon's win 1972.

VERMONT John Edwards decided months ago not to contest Howard Dean's home state, and it may have cost him a few additional delegates. Without Sen. Edwards's name on the ballot, anybody-but-Kerry voters had no legitimate candidate to support, so they stuck with Dr. Dean-even though his campaign ended two weeks prior. That marked the former governor's only win of the primary season.

MARYLAND For anyone who still thought Sen. Edwards might prove popular with African-American voters, Maryland was a wake-up call. In Prince George's County, a Washington suburb with the nation's highest concentration of affluent black voters, Sen. Edwards took a drubbing despite the active support of Rep. Albert Wynn, the state's most powerful black power broker. He did even worse among lower-class voters in Baltimore, helping Sen. Kerry to one of his biggest victory margins of the year.

NEW ENGLAND Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were considered such a lock that John Kerry didn't even bother returning home to vote. On Super Tuesday there were no surprises, and the junior senator from Massachusetts handily won all three states.

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