Popular vote

Since March, she has won around half a million more popular votes than Obama, and she argues that in the general election against Republican John McCain, she is the better bet.

 

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"In the final assessment I ask you to consider these questions. Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted in this historic election?" the New York senator asked.

About 200 party elders, known as superdelegates, hold the balance of power in the fight for the nomination with votes equal to those of the state delegates.

 

Obama's aides questioned her popular vote claim.

 

Her assertion includes estimates for caucuses in Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington state, where no official candidate popular vote is available.

 

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It also includes the results from Florida, where no campaigning occurred, as well as Michigan, where Obama did not receive any votes because his name was not on the ballot.

 

As the latest primary results rolled in, Obama made barely any mention of Clinton, except to predict her loyal support after he becomes the Democratic nominee.

 

"She is going to be a great asset when we go into November to make sure that we defeat the Republicans. That I can promise you," he said while campaigning in Mitchell, South Dakota.

 

Clinton setback
 
Clinton's win on Sunday came a day after a big setback when the Democratic party's rules and by-laws committee restored only half of Michigan's and Florida's voting power.
 
The party had barred delegates from the two states from voting at the party convention in Denver in August - that will decide the presidential nominee - as punishment for moving their primaries forward to January, against Democratic party rules.

Obama campaigned in South Dakota which
holds its primary on Tuesday [AFP]
Clinton won the primary battles in both states and pushed for both states to have their delegates fully reinstated.
 
The party reached a compromise deal in Washington on Saturday, halving the votes of delegates from Michigan and Florida at the August convention.
 
The committee rejected a Clinton-backed proposal to seat all the Florida delegates at full strength, then backed compromises seating both the Michigan and Florida delegations while cutting their voting power.
 
Harold Ickes, a senior Clinton aide and member of the committee which approved the deal, said her campaign might challenge the ruling.
 

Obama is now just 47 shy of the 2,118 votes needed to clinch the nomination, with two primaries remaining, while Clinton needs 207.

Superdelegate support 

 

Obama also picked up the support of two superdelegates on Sunday, which means he has made up most of the ground he lost Saturday when the national party's rules committee voted to reinstate delegates from Michigan and Florida.

 

The delegates had been stripped because the two states violated party rules by holding primaries before February 5.

 

There are a total of 31 delegates at stake in the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday.

 

If Clinton and Obama split them, Obama would need to convince 30 of the 200 or so undecided superdelegates remaining to support him, to clinch the nomination.

 

Puerto Rico and other US territories are included in the nominating processes for Democrats and Republicans, but residents are not allowed to vote in the general election in November.