Race again played a pivotal role in Tuesday's Democratic presidential clashes, as whites in Indiana and North Carolina leaned solidly toward Hillary Rodham Clinton and blacks voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, exit polls showed. Almost half said they were influenced by the focus on Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Obama, the Illinois senator battling to become the first black president, again failed to gain ground with a crucial voting bloc that has consistently eluded him - working-class whites. But he was piecing together a coalition that besides blacks included the young, first-time primary voters, the very liberal and college graduates, plus sizable minorities of whites.
According to preliminary results from the Indiana exit polls and final data from North Carolina, about two-thirds of whites in both states who have not completed college were supporting Clinton. The New York senator could use that to fortify her argument that she would be the stronger Democratic candidate in the November general election. Of 28 states that held primaries in which she and Obama competed before Tuesday, Clinton had prevailed with working-class white voters in 25.