CNN Poll: Obama Pulls Into Lone Star Lead

Yet, Texas Dems favor Clinton on the top issues

A poll commissioned by CNN from Opinion Research Corporation shows that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has pulled into a narrow lead among Texas voters over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race. The poll of 861 likely Democratic primary voters, conducted Feb. 22-24 (immediately after the Feb. 21 debate between the two in Austin), shows Obama supported by 50%, with Clinton at 46%. That edge is just outside the 3.5% margin of error, and is a swing from a week before when Clinton stood at 50% and Obama at 48%.

Interestingly, the Dems' preference in candidates is at odds with their concerns on the major issues.

Overwhelmingly, in the same poll, Democrats said the top two issues when picking a presidential candidate were the economy (43%) and health care (26%), with the war in Iraq (20%) trailing behind, and illegal immigration a distant fourth (6%). Yet, when asked which candidates would handle each issue the best, Clinton got the nod on both the economy (52% to Obama's 45%) and health care (53%-45%). Obama was favored on illegal immigration (47%-46%) and the war (50%-44%).

It is worth noting, however, that Obama gained on Clinton after the debate on all four of those issues except the economy. Clinton's edge on health care had previously been 58%-41%, and she lost her leads on both illegal immigration and the war.

Clinton, Obama and likely Republican nominee John McCain are all viewed favorably by a majority of all Texans, but – in a what could be big sign of trouble for Republicans in November – McCain is lowest at 52%. However, Clinton gets the highest negatives – 40% view her unfavorably.

Among 751 likely Republican voters in Texas, Arizona Sen. McCain – who only needs a handful more delegates to wrap up the nomination – is favored by 56%. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a favorite of religious conservatives, trails at 31% and libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman Ron Paul stands at 9%.

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