By Karin Caifa in Los Angeles
"Voting is sexy."
At the corner of Sunset and Gower in Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon, a young woman held a cardboard sign with that very message scrawled in permanent marker, peddling her message to passersby.
"Sexy," and apparently seductive. It's estimated Californians came out in record numbers to award the biggest prize of Super Tuesday.
With its 370 Democratic and 170 Republican delegates at stake, California was clearly the star of the day and candidates and supporters eagerly awaited the outcome. Like a good TV cliffhanger, the results were among the last to come in, around midnight eastern time. And Hillary Clinton and John McCain were the big winners.
But unlike sappy sitcoms that wrap up in a neat little bow at the end of the show, California delivered little clarity to the 2008 race. Even though Clinton won the Democratic race here, she will split its delegates with Barack Obama. She got the win but in the proportional world of Democratic politics, he gets something. Clinton also won her home state of New York with the second-biggest delegate load of the night.
Barack Obama didn't have a bad night either. He won over a dozen states last night, including his home turf of Illinois, where his rival Clinton was born.
"What began as a whisper in Springfield has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change," Obama told supporters in Chicago last night. "It's a chorus that cannot be ignored, a chorus that cannot be deterred. This time can be different because this campaign for the presidency of the United States of America is different."
He didn't sound like he'll be giving any ground up anytime soon. Neither did Hillary Clinton, even when fielding questions today about a $5 million dollar loan she made to her campaign late last month.
"I loaned it because I feel very strongly in this campaign," she said in Arlington, Virginia, this afternoon. "We had a great month fundraising in January, broke all records, but my opponent was able to raise more money. But we intended to be competitive - and we were - and I think last night proved the wisdom of my investment."
Mike Huckabee is also hanging in there. Going into Super Tuesday, the GOP race looked like a two-man affair between John McCain and Mitt Romney. But Huckabee slowed Romney's momentum by snagging Super Tuesday's first win in West Virginia, and then swept the south. That sent Romney back to Boston to engage in serious discussions with his advisers today, and got Huckabee preaching of a campaign revival.
"We did it going against the head winds of talk radio and the pundits saying that I had simply disappeared, I wasn't even relevant, didn't matter," Huckabee said this morning.
So now these candidates, the campaigns, and the folks who follow them have had to shake off Super Tuesday and move on to contests in states like Washington and Louisiana over the weekend. Then the next big day is February 12, dubbed "The Potomac Primary." Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia will take their turn. Sure, it may not be as "sexy," as the big show here in California, but it's shaping up to be just as important.