The latest pre-primary polls suggest that Hillary Clinton has faint hopes of stalling Barack Obama's march to the Democratic nomination.
Obama had been leading by double digits in Oregon, where he expects to win on Tuesday, enabling him to declare victory in the pledged delegate race and perhaps sew up the nomination.
But the latest polls in Oregon show Clinton within striking distance. Obama leads 45 percent to 41 percent with 8 percent undecided and 6 percent refusing a response, according to a Suffolk University survey released this morning. An American Research Group survey puts Obama's lead at 50 percent to 45 percent.
UPDATE: Two other new surveys, however, give Obama a bigger lead in Oregon. Public Policy Polling says he leads Clinton 56 percent to 38 percent, and SurveyUSA says he leads 55 percent to 42 percent.
Obama appears to be confident of victory. Today, he does not plan to campaign in Oregon, instead stumping in Montana, which votes June 3. He has already scheduled a huge outdoor victory rally Tuesday night in Iowa, a battleground state in November and where his victory in the January caucuses propelled him to the front of the pack.
UPDATE: Obama continued focusing on the general election to come, praising Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for running a "magnificent race," but focusing on Republican John McCain.
Obama acknowledged to supporters in Billings, Mont., that some Democrats worry that the party will be divided this fall after a long nomination fight.
"We are not going to be divided," Obama said, pledging that whatever the differences during the primaries, his supporters and Clinton's will be unified in making sure that McCain doesn't win the White House and continue President Bush's policies.
Clinton, on the other hand, continues to lead handily in every poll in Kentucky, which also votes Tuesday. In a Suffolk survey released today, she leads Obama 51 percent to 25 percent, followed by John Edwards with 6 percent, "uncommitted" with 5 percent, while 11 percent were undecided.
But she isn't taking any chances and hopes to win big enough to cut into Obama's lead in the total popular vote, campaigning all day in the Bluegrass State. She plans her primary night rally in Louisville.
UPDATE: She told voters in Kentucky today that the nomination fight is nowhere near over, suggested that Obama is counting his chickens too soon.
The tale of two states voting Tuesday demonstrates again the demographic divide in the Democratic race -- blue-collar voters for Clinton, more affluent and more educated voters for Obama.
“With the nominating contest winding down, it’s unusual -- to say the least -- to have two states’ polls literally poles apart,” David Paleologos, director of Suffolk's Political Research Center, said in a statement. “And I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a disparity in a presidential candidate’s popularity from state to state.”
In Kentucky, Obama's favorability rating was as mixed as in West Virginia, where Clinton won by 41 percentage points last week, with 43 percent of voters viewing him favorably and 43 unfavorably. But in Oregon, 73 percent view him favorably and 15 percent unfavorably.
"Usually when a candidate has a high favorability, it trends high nationally, with limited variations regionally. Here, when you get to states like Kentucky and West Virginia, there's a kind of political inelasticity or unwillingness to replicate Obama's popularity elsewhere," Paleologos said.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.