WASHINGTON – Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) swept the Potomac primaries Tuesday, claiming victories in all three states.
The wins in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia made Obama the current Democratic frontrunner by a mere 25 delegates, and propelled McCain closer to his almost-within-grasp Republican nomination with 812 total delegates, according to CNN calculations. Republican challenger former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has 217 delegates.
To be the Democratic nominee, a candidate must get 2,025 delegates. A Republican candidate only needs 1,191 delegates to secure the nomination.
Obama has now won eight consecutive contests.
"The change we seek swept through Chesapeake and over the Potomac," Obama told supporters Tuesday night.
"We won the state of Maryland. We won the commonwealth of Virginia. And though we won in Washington, D.C., this movement won't stop until there is change in Washington, D.C., and tonight we're on our way."
The Republicans, although appearing much closer than the Democrats in selecting a nominee, is not all that settled internally. The GOP still remains severely fractioned as the party's conservative base continues to criticize McCain for being too liberal and threatens to vote for the Democratic candidate or sit out the election if he becomes the nominee.
Following McCain's big wins during the Super Tuesday contests, prominent evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson stated that he "cannot" and "will not" vote for McCain as a "matter of conscience" and announced his endorsement of Huckabee.
Conservative radio hosts have also attacked McCain for his moderate voting record and do not currently appear to be in a mood to reconcile.
According to a new poll out this week, Democratic voters are more satisfied with their choices for presidential candidates than Republicans. Six in 10 say both Obama and Clinton are better than most presidential candidates who have run during their lifetimes, according to the Gallup Poll.
In contrast, Republicans believe McCain is not much different from prior candidates. Only 32 percent of Republicans rate McCain as better than most candidates – a stark contrast to Clinton's 50 percent and Obama's 48 percent approval rating among their Democratic voters.
But interestingly, another Gallup poll this week showed McCain to be highly competitive if pitted against either Democratic candidate.
If a hypothetical general election were to take place, McCain would lead Clinton by one point, 49 percent to 48 percent, according to the USA Today/ Gallup Poll conducted Feb. 8-10. When matched up with Obama, McCain would trail by four points, 46 percent to 50 percent.
Both of these differences are within the poll's margin of error, suggesting that if the election were held today, it would be a close race between McCain and either of the Democratic candidates.
Meanwhile, Huckabee, although losing three more primaries, continued to vow to stay in the race and give voters in the upcoming contests "a solid, conservative, absolute pro-life candidate."
"The nomination is not secured until somebody has 1,191 delegates," Huckabee stated. "That has not yet happened. We're still continuing to work and to give voters in these states a choice."
The competition for both parties will next take place in Wisconsin next Tuesday. The Democrats will also compete for Hawaii while the Republicans face off in the Washington primary on that same day.