Oprah Winfrey Presents: Barack Obama

For African-American women who overlap in that category, Sawyer said, Oprah's endorsement will be key. Baum said it "helps with any subgroup you might want.

"A comfort level with Hillary and the electability issue," Sawyer said, are what hurt Obama most. "Black women voters are voting strategically and defensively."

Still, he categorizes this moment as "dangerous" for the Clinton campaign. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Clinton with a solid, single-digit lead in New Hampshire, but numbers in Iowa put Obama within striking distance.

"You really don't want to be losing momentum going into the first key primary," Sawyer said. "There wasn't any other strategy for her but to run as the front-runner and sit on the lead."

Baum said, "Her audience on average tends to be less partisan and more persuadable. As elections are decided by smaller and smaller margins, [candidates] reach out to small knots of persuadable voters and her audience is a great place to find them."

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