Another indecisive round looms in US presidential race

May 6th, 2008 - 12:32 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 6 (IANS) As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama geared up for a pair of crucial primaries Tuesday, opinion polls pointed to yet another indecisive round in the unending contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. While the former first lady appeared to have taken a clear four-point 48 to 44 percent lead in Indiana, Obama remained ahead with an eight-point 50 to 42 percent edge in North Carolina, according to new CNN surveys of several recent polls out of both states.

Clinton’s lead is up from several recent surveys of polls that showed her locked in a dead heat in Indiana. On the other hand, Obama’s margin is exactly the same as it was in a similar CNN poll of polls conducted last week.

Indiana and North Carolina with 187 Democratic delegates who pick the party nominee are considered crucial contests for both candidates.

An Obama sweep would effectively establish the Illinois senator as the party’s presumptive Democratic nominee while two victories for Clinton would give the New York senator a fresh momentum ahead of the race’s final stretch.

Currently, Obama leads Clinton 1,745 to 1,602 in delegate count, but neither candidate is likely to gather 2,025 needed to win the party nomination by the end of primary season.

On the national front, Obama holds a slight edge over Clinton. A CNN poll of polls shows Obama with a four-point lead over Clinton nationwide - that margin is slightly higher than it was in a poll of polls last week that showed Obama with a two-point lead.

Meanwhile, Clinton plugged her summertime gas-tax holiday proposal and released a new TV ad in both states that assailed Obama for his opposition to it. The ad called her “the candidate who is going to fight for working people”.

Obama in turn accused Clinton of pandering with the proposal and focussed on job losses, falling home values and soaring energy costs. With far more cash on hand, he has outspent Clinton by an estimated $4 million to $5 million - roughly a third more - on TV ads in both states combined.

Tuesday’s primary results in Indiana and North Carolina will also serve as something of a referendum on just how much Obama has been hurt by a recent controversy over statements and appearances by his longtime Chicago pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Clinton’s campaign has tried to suggest that the Wright controversy has weakened Obama as a potential general election candidate.

With the race likely to continue well past Tuesday, her campaign struggled to explain what an end game would look like.

“Anyone who can tell you that they know, accurately, how this process will play out between now and the convention is likely to get it wrong,” said Clinton spokesperson Howard Wolfson.

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