California voters showed particularly strong support for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, assuring her of a decisive victory in the state's Democratic presidential primary, election returns showed on Wednesday.
With 93 percent of California precincts reporting, Clinton won about 52 percent of the vote compared to slightly over 42 percent for Illinois Senator Barrack Obama.
The result was contrary to earlier predictions that the race would be close. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who traveled across the country to campaign for Clinton, said he did not believe pre-voting polls showing Obama faring better. "Frankly the polls have never been so wrong," he said.
In Los Angeles County, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton, the New York senator, had 55 percent of the vote to Obama's 41 percent. In Orange County, with 100 percent of the precincts counted, she had 55 percent of the vote to Obama's 38 percent.
But as impressive as her California victory was, the race for the Democratic nomination remained wide open. The 584 delegates Clinton won around the nation Tuesday brought her total to 845, compared to 765 for Obama, who won 569 in the Super Tuesday primaries. Needed for the nomination are 2,025 votes.
Despite Clinton's lead, Obama supporters tried to appear upbeat and pointed to other state victories by their candidate.
"Well, we're seeing great numbers fueled by the sort of hope and optimism that Senator Obama made the hallmark of his campaign," Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti told local TV KCAL9 .
With more primaries scheduled and the final distribution of Democratic Convention delegates not yet clear, neither could claim to have clinched the nomination based on Tuesday's voting.
Clinton and Obama have both pledged to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
Obama has criticized Clinton throughout the campaign for her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq. Obama had not been elected to the Senate when the vote was taken.
Clinton said she would begin to withdraw troops within 60 days of taking office and estimated it could take a year for a complete withdrawal.
Both candidates have said the withdrawal they plan to oversee would not be excessively precipitous. "It is important for us to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in," Obama has said.
The two candidates have proposed stimulus packages in addition to earlier economic plans, basically aimed at aiding the middle class.