Trailing in perceived electability, Hillary Clinton is running in a dead heat with Barack Obama in the Texas Democratic primary and holds a single-digit lead in Ohio, lifted there by lunch-bucket voters and party regulars.
Differing demographic and political profiles in Texas and Ohio change pieces of the puzzle — but both contests look close, with more than enough moveable voters to tip the balance either way.
With about two weeks until the primary, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds a 48-47 percent Clinton-Obama race among likely voters in Texas, and 50-43 percent in Ohio.
A quarter in Texas, and a third in Ohio, say they could change their minds or are undecided.
In Texas, Clinton's being kept competitive by support from Hispanics; she likely needs them to turn out in greater-than-usual numbers, as they did in California, which she won Feb. 5.
In Ohio she's benefiting from a greater number of Democratic Party regulars than in Texas, from fewer college-educated or higher-income voters and from support in some union households.
In both states, senior citizens are crucial to Clinton's side; independents and younger voters, to Obama's. And he's taken a lead over Clinton on electability, a point he may try to drive home, along with his mantle of "change," in the days ahead.
Obama beats Clinton in the perception that he's got the best chance of winning in November by 47-36 percent in Texas and 48-37 percent in Ohio.
He trounced Clinton as more electable in Wisconsin; he's also made broad strides on electability in national ABC/Post polling, moving up from a 43-point deficit in mid-December to just 5 points earlier this month.
Obama's lead on electability peaks among college graduates, a key group for him; nearly six in 10 of them say he has the best chance to win in November.
Even women, less-educated voters and mainline Democrats — Clinton groups — roughly divide between her and Obama on who's most electable.
Indeed among seniors, her best group, well under half say Clinton's got the best chance in November.
For her part, Clinton continues to prevail as the strongest leader, by 53-36 percent in Ohio and 51-40 percent in Texas.
That edge extends to some issues: she's ahead in both states in trust to handle the economy as well as health care, her signature issue. Clinton has a slight edge in Ohio in trust to handle the Iraq war; in Texas, they're even on the issue.
Voters in both states split about evenly on the key dynamic of the race, a "new direction and new ideas" vs. "strength and experience"; the split mirrors the last national poll.
It cuts overwhelmingly to vote: Eight in 10 voters who place more importance on "strength and experience" favor Clinton; about as many "new direction" voters go to Obama.
Obama is slightly stronger among "new direction" voters in Texas (80 percent support him) than in Ohio (75 percent) — part of the reason he's a bit behind there.