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COLUMBIA - Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama shift their fight to South Carolina after a split result in Nevada's contest failed to yield a clear winner in the battle for the US Democratic presidential nomination.
Republican John McCain's victory in South Carolina gave his campaign much-needed momentum ahead of a crucial battle in Florida.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won among the Republicans in Nevada.
Clinton captured the vote among Democrats on Saturday in Nevada, but Obama edged her out for national convention delegates, taking 13 to her 12.
Their next battle will be the Democrats' first in the South, where Obama is relying on black voters, who make up more than half of the South Carolina Democratic electorate, to give him a winning edge. Most polls have him leading Clinton in the state. But Clinton has won over many influential black leaders and had led in the state before Obama's Iowa victory established him as a strong contender.
Overall, Clinton leads the Democrats' delegate race with 236, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as "super delegates". Obama has a total of 136. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is trailing with 50 delegates, making it crucial that he has a strong showing in the upcoming races.
Among the Republicans, McCain, whose campaign was left for dead six months ago, quickly predicted that victory in the first southern primary would help him next week when Florida votes, and again on February 5, dubbed "Super Tuesday," when more than two dozen states hold primaries and caucuses.
"We've got a long way to go," McCain told Associated Press in an interview.
The Arizona senator defeated Mike Huckabee in a close race in the conservative state that snuffed out his presidential hopes eight years ago. McCain had 33percent of the vote to just under 30percent for his closest rival. He won 19 delegates, to five for Huckabee.
With three contests on the ballot, Saturday was the busiest day of the presidential campaign to date, and fittingly enough for a pair of wide-open races, every contest produced a different winner. - Sapa-AP