Texas and Ohio live

4.50pm. CNN calls Texas for Clinton. Her lead is back to 51-48 with 75 per cent reporting.

4.42pm. Still 50-48 in Texas with 69 per cent reporting, but the trend on raw figures is nudging gently back to Cllinton. We also have 5 per cent of the caucuses reporting with Obama leading 56-44; no idea what to make of this.

4.12pm. Only just noticed how great the New York Times’ graphical maps are. Run your pointer over Texas and note how a lot of the big counties in the Obama-voting cities have a very low count.

4.08pm. … and her lead his now back to 50-48 with 63 per cent reporting.

4.08pm. CNN analyst says most of Clinton’s strong areas in Texas are “in”; if Obama’s early 60-40 lead in Houston holds up, it will apparently be enough to put him ahead, although he stresses that won’t definitely happen.

4.02pm. Clinton has gained another point in Texas, leading 51-48 with 58 per cent reporting.

3.27pm. Been away from my post for a bit. Clinton has claimed victory in Ohio and is currently delivering a speech making it very clear she’s not about to withdraw. Clinton leads 50-48 in Texas with 46 per cent reporting.

2.46pm. Now 51 per cent of precincts in Ohio and Clinton’s lead has in fact widened a little, to 57-41.

2.33pm. Clinton has caught up with Obama in Texas with 20 per cent of precincts reporting: now 49-all. Her lead is only narrowing slightly in Ohio, now at 56-42 with 47 per cent reporting.

2.14pm. Clinton still leads 57-41 in Ohio with 35 per cent of precincts reporting. Talk in comments suggests a 50-50 result in Cleveland, which I gather was expected to be good for Obama.

2.08pm. Interviewee on Fox Radio notes that Rhode Island exit polls were way out, pointing to a close result when it has actually been a big win for Clinton.

1.50pm. 21 per cent of precincts in Ohio now reporting and Clinton’s earlier lead is almost intact – now 59-39. Texas count has edged up to 6 per cent and Obama’s earlier lead has steadily been whittled away, now down to 51-49.

1.36pm. Clinton still leads 60-38 in Ohio with 14 per cent of precincts reporting.

1.31pm. Claude in comments points out another factor in Ohio being the extension of voting in some counties where Obama is expected to do well.

1.28pm. CNN calls Rhode Island for Clinton, her first win since Super Tuesday.

1.28pm. Al in comments notes no precincts are in from the Ohio cities of Columbus and Cleveland, the former being an Obama-friendly college town.

1.23pm. Huckabee announcing withdrawal. Clinton leads 60-38 in Ohio with 6 per cent counted, but this is presumably with Clinton-friendly areas reporting.

1.10pm. Fox reports that Mike Huckabee has confirmed he will withdraw, but says there are “conflicting reports”.

1.04pm. Obama campaign reportedly feeling upbeat about Ohio, the bad weather having diminished the turnout from older Democrats who favour Clinton. Fox gives McCain a clean sweep of Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island.

1.03pm. McCain by all accounts now has enough delegates to secure the nomination.

1.01pm. Via Kevin Rennie, an explanation of the Texas system from New Republic.

12.45pm. I’ve had my eye off the ball for the last 45 minutes. Obama has an early 56-44 lead in Texas, but these are big city precincts where he is expected to do well. I’m not going to pretend to be on top of the Texan primaries-plus-caucuses system: perhaps somebody who is can provide a brief explanation in comments.

11.55am. Exit polls point to a “tight race” in Rhode Island.

11.40am. CBS News reporting a very high turnout by Hispanics in Texas and low turnout of African-Americans, boding well for Clinton.

11.30am (Australian EST). Polls have just closed in Ohio, and Fox News has immediately called Ohio for John McCain but predicted a close result between Clinton and Obama. Vermont is being called for Obama and McCain.

The Times they are a-changin’

The Times (of London) yesterday reported on what looked to me like a political horror story for Barack Obama, involving an Iraqi-born billionaire said by a Pentagon report to have “served as Saddam Hussein’s principle international financial manipulator and bag man”, a multi-million dollar loan conducted through a Central American finance company, and an admission from Obama of “boneheaded mistakes”. Yet it appears to be receiving little coverage in the US, the links in the chain being admittedly rather weak (though since when has that ever stopped anyone in presidential politics?). So Hillary Clinton will evidently have to hope for some other miracle to come along in the four days before the next primaries. The latest polls show Obama streaking ahead in Texas, and closing in fast in Ohio.

US presidential primaries: week off edition

We’re now half way through a quiet period in the presidential primaries calendar, which will end with the last major contests in Texas and Ohio next Tuesday. The graphs below show Democratic opinion polling over the past two weeks, bearing in mind that there are almost as many pollsters represented here as polls. The pollsters only record responses from “likely” Democratic voters, which makes it hard for them to get what would strike Australian observers as an impressive sample size: the range was 564 to 902 in Ohio, and 403 to 660 in Texas. Figures sourced from Real Clear Politics.

US primaries open thread

Been a bit busy lately, so it’s past time for a new US elections thread. Since Super Tuesday we’ve had an anticipated string of Barack Obama victories from caucuses in Nebraska, Washington and Maine and a primary in Louisiana, along with a narrow win for John McCain in Washington and probably meaningless victories for Mike Huckabee in Kansas and Louisiana. Tomorrow US time we have both parties holding primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.