If Clinton Wins in Ohio or Texas, Most Democrats Want Her to Stay in the Race

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two-thirds of Democrats say a victory in either Ohio or Texas would be reason enough for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) to keep her historic bid for the party's presidential nomination alive, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Two losses, however, would dramatically change the equation. Only 29 percent of Democrats said Clinton should drop out if she loses one of the two big states, but that number jumps to 51 percent if she loses both. About two-thirds of men and liberals indicated that she should give up her bid under those circumstances. And among those closely following the campaign, nearly six in 10 said she should quit the race if she loses both Texas and Ohio, states that her husband, former president Bill Clinton, has called must-wins.

At the general-election level, half of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents across the country would like to see Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) as the party's presidential candidate; 43 percent would rather Hillary Clinton be the nominee.

Obama's edge is built on strong support among the types of voters who have lifted him to 11 consecutive wins since Super Tuesday. Eight in 10 African Americans want Obama to be the party's standard-bearer, as do about two-thirds of younger voters and those seeking a candidate offering a new direction and new ideas. Nearly six in 10 men and 45 percent of women support Obama, putting him roughly on par with Clinton among women. White women and older voters preferred Clinton by wide margins.

And in a twist, Obama has the edge among mainline Democrats, who prefer him over Clinton by 10 percentage points. While losing to Clinton among Democrats in most states holding their caucuses or primaries through Feb. 5, Obama has won the party faithful in the four post-Super Tuesday contests that had a network exit poll.

Overall, white Democrats prefer Clinton by a 10-point margin, masking a wide gender gap: By about a 20-point margin, white women are more likely than white men to want Clinton to be the nominee. Whites without college degrees and those with annual family incomes of less than $50,000 back Clinton, while those with more formal education and higher incomes split about evenly between her and Obama.

The poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 28 to March 2 among a random national sample, including 629 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

-- Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta

© 2008 The Washington Post Company