In a surprise twist after a chaotic Super Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) passed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in network tallies of the number of delegates the candidates racked up last night.
The Obama camp projects topping Clinton by nine delegates, 845 to 836.
NBC News, which is projecting delegates based on the Democratic Party's complex formula, figures Obama will wind up with 840 to 849 delegates, versus 829 to 838 for Clinton.
Clinton was portrayed in many news accounts as the night's big winner, but Obama's campaign says he wound up with a higher total where it really counts - the delegates who will choose the party's nominee at this summer's Democratic convention.
With the delegate count still under way, NBC News said Obama appears to have won around 840 delegates in yesterday's contests, while Clinton earned about 830 - "give or take a few," Tim Russert, the network's Washington bureau chief, said on the "Today" show.
The running totals for the two, which includes previous contests and the party officials known as "superdelegates," are only about 70 delegates apart, Russert said.
The bottom line is that the two are virtually tied.
Obama won 13 states, some of them smaller, and Clinton won eight.
On Wednesday morning, the battle was on to shape public perceptions about Tuesday.
The Clinton campaign said it was crunching its delegate numbers but was not sure it was correct that Obama got more.
The Obama campaign sent an e-mailed statement titled: "Obama wins Super Tuesday by winning more states and more delegates."
Campaign Manager David Plouffe said: "By winning a majority of delegates and a majority of the states, Barack Obama won an important Super Tuesday victory over Sen. Clinton in the closest thing we have to a national primary."
"From Colorado and Utah in the West to Georgia and Alabama in the South to Sen. Clinton's backyard in Connecticut, Obama showed that he can win the support of Americans of every race, gender and political party in every region of the country," Plouffe said. "That's why he's on track to win Democratic nomination, and that's why he's the best candidate to defeat John McCain in November."
The Obama campaign attached an Excel spreadsheet containing "state-by-state estimates of the pledged delegates we won last night, which total 845 for Obama and 836 for Clinton - bringing the to-date total of delegates to 908 for Obama, 884 for Clinton."
© 2008 Politico