Race too close to call in Indiana; exit polls show economy looming large

May 7, MSNBC

Barack Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday in the North Carolina primary, one of the last two big-delegate states left in their marathon race for the Democratic presidential nomination, NBC News projected.

In the other state, Indiana, the race was too close to call, the network said.

Obama's decisive win in North Carolina mirrored earlier triumphs in Southern states with large black populations, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina among them.

That made Indiana a virtual must-win state for the former first lady, who was hoping to counter Obama's delegate advantage with a strong run through the late primaries. With more than two-thirds of precincts reporting, Clinton was leading by 53 percent to 47 percent, though the race was tightening.

Obama, in a raucous rally in Raleigh, N.C., congratulated Clinton on what he said "appears to be" a win in Indiana.

But, he told the crowd, "Tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from winning the Democratic nomination for president of the United States."

Exit polls charted a racial divide that has become familiar in a long, historic campaign pitting a black man against a white woman.

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photo: Sen. Barack Obama holds a beer as he greets people at Raleigh Times bar in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday. Obama's win in North Carolina ensured him of at least a split in the day's primaries (Jae C. Hong / AP)