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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 07:59 PM ET, 03/03/2008

Should Clinton Fight On?

Conventional wisdom says Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's gaping deficit in the delegate race has led to a set of make or break primaries in Texas and Ohio today, but does the public agree? A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that should she win one of these two states, 67 percent of Democrats said she should continue her candidacy. And even if she were to lose both, a sizable 45 percent said she should soldier on.

If she wins one, there is majority support for Clinton to fight on across demographic and ideological breaks. Seven in 10 women and 62 percent of men said she should continue, as do 66 percent of younger Democrats and 62 percent of seniors; 59 percent of liberals and 70 percent of moderates; 68 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats; 71 percent of whites and 62 percent of African Americans.

The percentage saying she should drop out if she only wins one of the two main battlegrounds today tops four in 10 only among liberal Democrats, married men and those who would prefer Obama as the party's candidate.

But if Clinton is unable to pull out a win in either Texas or Ohio, support for a prolonged campaign drops appreciably. Slightly more than half, 51 percent, said she should drop out if she loses both contests.

Those most likely to say she should get out of the race are among those who are more likely to prefer Obama, with men (63 percent saying drop out), liberals (62 percent) and college grads (60 percent) atop the list.

But at the same time, some of Obama's most steady groups of supporters are among those who do not appear eager for the contest to end. Black women are evenly divided on the question: 47 percent said she should stay in even if she loses both states, 47 percent said she should drop out. Independents are also evenly divided, with 49 percent on each side. Among those younger voters who have provided a spark for Obama's campaign, 46 percent said she should stay in the race, compared with 39 percent of seniors (a solid Clinton group in most primaries).

Those who may be more aware of the delegate difficulties New York's junior senator faces are more apt to say she should end it after two losses. Nearly six in 10 Democrats following the race "very closely" said she should drop out under those circumstances.

Among Clinton's supporters, more than nine in 10 want to fight on if she wins at least one of the two big states voting today. But should she lose one, support for staying in drops to 69 percent, and a quarter said she should call it a day.

This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted Feb. 28-March 2 among a random national sample including 629 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. These results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. Complete data from the poll can be found here.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  07:59 PM ET, 03/03/2008

Categories:  Post Polls

 
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