Des Moines, Iowa Democrat Barack Obama expanded his fragile lead in delegates over rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday, picking up nine delegates as Iowa activists took the next step in picking delegates to the national convention.
More than half the 14 delegates allocated to John Edwards on the basis of caucus night projections switched Saturday to Obama.
Iowa Democratic Party officials said that with all of the delegates picked, Obama claimed 52 percent of the delegates elected at county conventions on Saturday, compared with 32 percent for Clinton. Some of the delegates picked at Saturday's conventions were sticking with Edwards, even though he's dropped from the race since Iowa held its caucuses in January.
Democratic Party projections said the results mean Obama increased by nine the number of delegates he collects from the state, getting a total of 25 compared with 14 for Clinton and six for Edwards.
Twelve automatic delegates bring the state's total to 57. Obama has been endorsed by four of those and Clinton three, with the remainder uncommitted.
Also Saturday, California's Democratic Party finalized the delegate counts from its Feb. 5 primary. Clinton picked up two more pledged delegates, raising her state total to 204; Obama gained five, raising his figure to 166.
Counting Saturday's new figures from Iowa and California, an Associated Press delegate tally showed Obama with 1,617 delegates and Clinton with 1,498.
Obama won Iowa's precinct caucuses in January with 39 percent of the vote, with Edwards narrowly edging Clinton to finish second. Projections on caucus night showed Obama getting 16 delegates, compared with 15 for Clinton and 14 for Edwards.
"It means the Obama people are very organized," said Iowa Democratic Chairman Scott Brennan. "They have been working very hard for these conventions."
Brennan said turnout was heavy, with more than 13,000 activists showing up at conventions in the state's 99 counties.
"Today, Iowa Democrats again turned out in large numbers to reject the failed Bush-McCain campaign and its policies," said Brennan.
Edwards finished second in the state's leadoff precinct caucuses on Jan. 3, but those caucuses are only the first step in a complicated process of picking the state's 45 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August.