March 2, 2008 / 12:45 AM / 9 years ago

Clinton trails in Texas, deadlocked in Ohio

<p>Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign rally in Westerville, Ohio, March 2, 2008.Shannon Stapleton</p>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly trails rival Barack Obama in Texas and the two are virtually tied in Ohio ahead of critical contests that could decide the fate of her presidential bid, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Sunday.

Clinton faces heavy pressure to win in both big states on Tuesday and halt the Illinois senator's momentum after his 11 consecutive victories in their battle to become the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election.

Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, has seen big poll leads disappear in both states over the last two weeks as Obama seized control of the Democratic race with his winning streak.

She now trails Obama in Texas by 4 points, 47 percent to 43 percent, up from a 2-point edge for Obama on Saturday. Obama's strength in the state's big cities and among men, young voters and blacks has offset her advantage with the state's sizable bloc of Hispanics and older voters.

Clinton still holds leads in heavily Hispanic south Texas and conservative west Texas, but Obama has pulled virtually even among women voters, usually one of her strongest constituencies.

In Ohio, Clinton has a statistically insignificant 1-point edge on Obama, 47 percent to 46 percent, after the two were dead even on Saturday. That is well within the margin of error of 3.7 percentage points in the poll conducted by Zogby International.

"It's way too close in both states to say either one has a significant advantage," pollster John Zogby said.

The poll found Republican front-runner John McCain had huge leads in Ohio and Texas over his last major rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as he tries to nail down the party's nomination.

Mccain Moves Closer

McCain, an Arizona senator, can move even closer with big wins on Tuesday to the magic number of 1,191 delegates that are needed to clinch the nomination. The delegates select the nominee at September's Republican Party convention.

Among Democrats, Obama has moved ahead in pledged delegates to the party's nominating convention and Tuesday's contests represent Clinton's best chance to make a significant dent in his lead.

<p>Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, March 1, 2008.Jessica Rinaldi</p>

In Ohio, 5 percent of Democrats are still undecided. In Texas, 7 percent of Democrats are not sure of their choice.

Clinton has stressed her prescriptions for the ailing economy in blue-collar Ohio and has spent the last two days attacking Obama's national security credentials and ability to handle the role of commander in chief.

But Zogby said Obama had bounced back with a strong day of polling on Saturday after a strong day for Clinton on Friday.

Slideshow (10 Images)

"He seems to have responded pretty well to the Clinton attacks and neutralized that," he said.

Among Republicans, McCain leads Huckabee 61 percent to 27 percent in Ohio and 54 percent to 36 percent in Texas. The other remaining Republican candidate, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, had 4 percent in Texas and 3 percent in Ohio.

McCain has struggled to sell some conservatives on his candidacy, and the poll showed Huckabee's greatest strength was among those who described themselves as "very" conservative.

He led McCain by 57 percent to 36 percent in Texas among those who said they were very conservative, and 52 percent to 38 percent among the very conservative in Ohio.

The rolling poll was conducted Thursday through Saturday. It surveyed 746 likely Democratic voters in Ohio and 736 in Texas and had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

The poll of 657 likely Republican voters in Ohio and 608 voters in Texas had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points in Ohio and 4.1 percentage points in Texas.

In a rolling poll, the most recent day's results are added and the oldest day's results are dropped to track changing momentum. The poll will continue until Tuesday.

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/

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