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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 10:20 GMT
Tied US rivals fight for momentum
Composite image, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
The next Democratic contest is on Saturday
US presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are battling to claim the Democratic momentum after neck-and-neck Super Tuesday polling.

Mrs Clinton said her campaign was "full speed ahead" after she clinched several big states in the biggest day of voting yet in the party nominations battle.

Mr Obama said there were "many more rounds to fight", but he was "less of an underdog" than he was two weeks ago.

Republican John McCain, now well ahead in his race, called for party unity.

Correspondents say Mr McCain now looks unbeatable, but the Democratic race could continue until the party convention in August where the nomination will be sealed.

'Big victory'

Mrs Clinton said she was "very pleased" with her victories in eight states, including delegate-rich New York and California, in the Super Tuesday contests.

Both she and Mr Obama, who won 13 states, claimed to have had the edge in the day's results.

Mrs Clinton claimed to have won "most votes and most delegates", while Mr Obama said he had clinched "most states and most delegates".

NEXT CONTESTS
Saturday: Louisiana and Washington state (multi-party); Nebraska (Democratic); Kansas (Republican)
Sunday: Maine (Democratic)
Tuesday: Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC (multi-party)

Party officials were still, however, carrying out the complex calculations that translate Tuesday's votes into numbers of delegates to back the respective candidates at the party convention.

Mr Obama hailed an "extraordinary night" and a "big victory" for his campaign.

"We feel confident that the wind is at our back," said Mr Obama. "I have great confidence this campaign is gaining momentum every day."

He said Mrs Clinton remained the favourite because of the enormous familiarity people have with her.

"But you know we're turning out to be a scrappy little team," he said.

Mrs Clinton confirmed that she had loaned her campaign $5m of her own money, in order to be competitive against Mr Obama, who had raised more money in the month of January.

Marginal lead

Counting continues in one Democratic contest, New Mexico, where Mrs Clinton is in the lead.

Democrats

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton
17 states, 1,592 delegates
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas
Barack ObamaBarack Obama
24 states, 1,723 delegates
Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state, Wisconsin
2,025 delegates needed for nomination. Source AP (includes all kinds of delegates)
Q&A: US election delegates

Republicans

Mike HuckabeeMike Huckabee
8 states, 271 delegates
Campaign ended
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kansas, Louisiana
John McCainJohn McCain
20 states, 1,253 delegates
Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state, Wisconsin
Mitt RomneyMitt Romney
11 states, 251 delegates
Campaign suspended
Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah
1,191 delegates needed for nomination. Source: AP (includes all kinds of delegates)

In terms of delegates captured, Mrs Clinton was only marginally ahead, under the Democrats' system of proportional distribution.

Both are still well short of the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the party's nomination.

Overall, voters were choosing 42% of delegates on Super Tuesday.

The BBC's North America editor Justin Webb points out that Mrs Clinton won in important states such as New York, New Jersey and California, and that her support there looks like the solid foundation of a Democratic Party victory in November's presidential poll.

In contrast, he says, Mr Obama's wins were in states such as Georgia and North Dakota, which will not be important Democratic targets come November.

Mr Obama did well but there are still questions about the long-term viability of his campaign, our editor says.

'Calm down'

Mr McCain called for unity in the Republican party after a series of poll victories that correspondents say seriously wounded his main rival, Mitt Romney.

Mr McCain enjoyed wins in the big states of California and New York, as well as Illinois, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Missouri, Connecticut, Delaware, and his home state of Arizona.

WHAT IS SUPER TUESDAY?
24 states holding simultaneous contests to help decide the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations
About 40% of each party's delegates - who will choose the candidate - are up for grabs
Key states electing large numbers of delegates include California, New York and Illinois

But five wins for former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, who was polling a distant third but is popular with evangelical Christians, backed up the widely held view that Mr McCain lacks support from conservatives in his own party.

Some key conservative figures have refused to vote for Mr McCain in the presidential election if he wins the nomination.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr McCain said: ""I do hope that at some point we would just calm down a little bit and see if there are areas that we can agree on for the good of the party and for the good of the country."

Both Mr McCain's rivals, Mr Huckabee and Mr Romney, have vowed to fight on.

Our correspondent says the presidential race is living up to its billing as the most unpredictable in living memory.

He says a Republican nominee may emerge earlier on, but one who lacks party support, to face two Democrats who both have enthusiastic party backing but could spend many more months fighting each other.

But correspondents say the Democratic contenders will also increasingly be putting pressure on so-called super-delegates, party members who are able to decide for themselves who to back at the convention, rather than being obliged to back whoever their state's voters support.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Super Tuesday result speeches



Select from the list below to view state level results.



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