DAVIE, Fla. - Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Florida Democratic primary Tuesday night, an event that drew no campaigning by any of her presidential rivals and awarded no delegates to the winner.
The New York senator, fresh off her lopsided loss to Barack Obama in last weekend's South Carolina primary, arranged a rally in the state as the polls were closing, an evident attempt to gain campaign momentum.
She and Obama collide next week in a coast-to-coast competition for delegates across 22 states.
Last year, the national party stripped Florida of its delegates as punishment for moving its primary ahead of Feb. 5 and the candidates pledged to bypass the state. At stake Tuesday were 185 delegates.
Still, Clinton winked at that pledge, holding two closed fundraisers in recent days and scheduling a rally with supporters after the polls closed in Florida.
It is expected that the eventual nominee will try to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan, reversing the Democratic National Committee's punishment.
"I will try to persuade my delegates to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida," said Clinton. "Democrats have to win Michigan and have to try to win Florida and I intend to do that. The people of Florida deserve to be represented in the process of picking a candidate for president of the United States."
Michigan also violated party rules by moving its primary to Jan. 15, and party leaders voted to strip the state of its 156 delegates as punishment.
Democrats participated in Tuesday's primary, driven to vote in part by ballot initiatives on property tax relief and gambling in some counties.
Exit polls of Florida Democrats conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks showed that the economy was the most important issue facing the country. Half of Democrats called the economy poor, compared to only about one in seven Republican primary voters.
Both parties' electorates were older than in any other presidential contest this year. A third or more in each primary were at least 65 years old. In earlier Democratic contests no more than a quarter were senior citizens.