Voters in Wisconsin have given Massachusetts Senator John Kerry one more victory in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The results were close, but, in the end, it was Senator Kerry who took first place. Coming before supporters, Senator Kerry said this brings him one step closer to the nomination.
Senator Kerry said,"I want to thank the state of Wisconsin for moving this cause and this campaign forward here tonight in this great state."
Although Senator Kerry won, Senator Edwards may have gained the most from Wisconsin. He will gain more attention from the mass media and a good deal of momentum, by having exceeded expectations here. Senator Edwards was shown as much as 20 points behind Senator Kerry, in some recent polls here in Wisconsin.
Senator Edwards told supporters his strong showing is a clear sign that voters want this contest to continue and that his campaign is gaining momentum.
Senator Edwards said,"The voters of Wisconsin sent a clear message. The message was this -- objects in your mirror (rearview mirror) may be closer than they appear."
Exit polls show a significant number of independent voters chose Senator Edwards, while Senator Kerry was the clear winner among Democrats. Wisconsin has an open primary, in which voters can cross party lines to choose a candidate.
Exit polls indicate Senator Edwards struck a chord with voters by addressing the issue of the economy and jobs that have been lost in recent years because of corporate outsourcing.
But Senator Kerry remains the clear frontrunner for the nomination, having won 15 primary and caucus contests so far. Senator Kerry is also far ahead in terms of delegates, but he is still far short of the two thousand-61 needed to win the nomination.
Wisconsin may have been the last contest for the man who only two months ago was seen as the frontrunner, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. He came in a distant third in the voting. He told supporters after the results came in Tuesday that he will return to Vermont to analyze where his campaign goes from here. But he denied strongly that his race is over.
Mr. Dean said,"We will change America and we will change the White House. Thank you very much for you help. On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin! Keep up the fight for a better America. Never give up. Never give up."
The race for the Democratic nomination now moves on to next Tuesday's contests in Hawaii and Idaho, which hold caucuses, and Utah, which will hold a primary.
Two weeks from now, the candidates will compete in the biggest contest of them all -- the so-called "Super Tuesday" in which 10 states hold primaries. Among those states will be the big, delegate-rich states of New York, California and Ohio.