While polls show that Sen. Hillary Clinton is positioned to narrowly win the critical Texas and Ohio primaries she needs to capture the Democratic nomination, a growing number of top Democrats in Washington see Sen. Barack Obama as the eventual winner. Several top officials and strategists over the past two days have described to U.S. News a distraught Clinton campaign in crisis and an Obama effort capable of shrugging off her attacks, such as last night's complaint that he is Xeroxing lines from other candidates. Fueling the grim assessment of Clinton's chances are new reviews of the voting patterns in Texas that could result in Clinton winning the popular vote but losing the delegate count, because of the way the party divides delegates based in part on the past general election turnout at the polls. "This could be Nevada all over again, where she won but Obama got more delegates," said a party strategist.
"She's in deep trouble in Texas," said Democratic campaign operative Joe Trippi, who ran John Edwards's campaign, at a political conference this week. He gave the edge in Texas to Obama and also said he expects unclaimed superdelegates will go Obama's way. Also worrisome is the pattern of Obama overcoming Clinton's poll leads in other places, like Virginia, when the Illinois senator has had time to campaign in states prior to elections. Some polls have Obama just a point behind Clinton in Texas. The possibility of a Clinton defeat also has some party officials talking about when she would withdraw from the race to save a convention fight and allow Obama to focus more on likely GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. "If she loses next week, I don't think she stays in the race," said a top Democratic Party aide.