California primary critical for candidates

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image ap"><span>AP</span></div><span class="caption-text">Supporters cheer as Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., takes the stage in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008, after her Democratic primary win in the state.&#40;AP Photo&#47;Jim Cole&#41; (AP)</span></div>
January 9, 2008 6:01:37 PM PST
The tight race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama energizes their California campaigns. The golden state is now a crucial "super-Tuesday" battleground.

There are four more primaries in January, before we head for super Tuesday, February 5th.

Michigan is next Tuesday. Nevada is Saturday, the 19th. South Carolina Republicans will also vote on the 19th. Democrats in that state vote on the following Saturday, January 26, and florida will vote on the 29th.

California is one of 22 states to vote on super Tuesday, February 5th. This state has more delegates than any other state and the candidates know they have to spend time here.

This is exactly what Californians wanted. An earlier primary will make California the biggest prize on February 5. With that said, the candidates have to focus on California and finally, talk about the issues that are important to California.

Barack Obama's supporters held a rally on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall -- the latest politician to endorse the Democratic hopeful was East Bay congressman George Miller.

"Right now it is a very toxic environment. This nation is evenly split. Washington is split. I think he can bridge that gap and I really think that's the hope that we see in his candidacy and that is the hope for this nation," said Rep. George Miller (D) East Bay.

Not far from there, Mayor Gavin Newsom was building support for democratic senator Hillary Clinton in the mission district.

Newson says Clinton should stay the course in California.

"The issues that matter most for Californians are the environment, and education and health care and those are three issues that Clinton has excelled," said San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

It's no surprise Newsom took his message to the Latino community.

Melissa Michelson is a professor of political science at California State University East Bay.

"You do have large numbers of women voting more than men, large numbers of Latinos voting who are very heavily for Clinton those factors are going to make it for Clinton," said political science professor Melissa Michelson.

Both Senators Obama and Clinton have spent a lot of time in California. With the race this close, both will zero-in on California because the primary is expected to crown the democratic nominee.

James Taylor is a political science professor is at USF.

"This current sort of decision by Schwarzenegger to move the primaries up to February 5th now makes California the most important of states," said political science professor James Taylor.

The republican nomination is still very much up for grabs. Independent voters helped senator john McCain win in New Hampshire yesterday. But in California, only registered Republicans are allowed to vote along party lines.

"And so McCain is less likely to as well here, but that doesn't mean the vote will go to Giuliani or Mitt Romney. It could be that we see another surge for Huckabee for other ones of those republicans who will have their moment in the spotlight," said Michelson.

So for the Republicans, the race is wide open. There is still Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida before they get to California.

Some political analysts believe many people in California who vote absentee will wait a little longer to mail in their ballots because they want to see what happens first in those states.