Obama and Clinton await their fate in North Carolina and Indiana
Voting continues in North Carolina and Indiana in the most significant contest left in the presidential showdown.
Opinion polls suggested Obama was positioned to win in North Carolina and Clinton could take Indiana, in a split which would keep her long-odds hopes of a comeback alive, but raise new fears of deep splits in the Democratic Party.
Voters lined up before sunrise in midwestern Indiana. Democratic senator Evan Bayh, a Clinton backer, late Friday predicted a record turnout in his rust-belt state.
The day's voting closes in North Carolina at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT), with a combined total of 187 pledged delegates on offer in the two states.
Clinton refused to say how she would perform, saying "I don't make predictions" as she toured the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway auto racing circuit, and accepted the endorsement of Indy 500 driver Sarah Fisher.
Her camaign chairman Terry McAullife however said he thought she would take Indiana and would fight on through the remaining six contests of the Democratic marathon.
Obama, who wants a good showing to shake off a grim month of April, was again up before dawn, after shaking hands at a shift change in an auto manufacturing plant in Indiana until past midnight on Monday.
"I think it's going to be close. I don't think anybody knows exactly what's going to happen," he said, after arriving in North Carolina where he will hold what he hopes will be a victory party.
If Obama wins both North Carolina and Indiana, Hillary is almost certainly finished and would likely drop out shortly. If HIllary wins both states Obama is in real trouble, because it will give the superdelegates a good reason to vote against him if the perception is that the Wright scandal has done irreperable damage to his 'electability.' If they each take one state then virtually nothing will change, and the race will likely go on to the convention.
the Democratic presidential primaries taking place on Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana have more delegates up for grabs than any of the remaining contests. For political, demographic and mathematical reasons, those states have the potential to reshape the competition between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
It will be an opportunity for Mrs. Clinton to make the case that Democratic sentiment is swinging in her favor, and to slice into Mr. Obama’s lead in pledged delegates and in the popular vote (putting aside the disputed contests in Florida and Michigan). For Mr. Obama, it is a chance to tamp down talk that Mrs. Clinton has exposed him as a flawed general election candidate.