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NJ: Obama in Striking Distance of Garden State

By Joby Warrick
The crowds were smaller than he's accustomed to, but Barack Obama had to like his showing among New Jersey Democrats today. Obama's visit to the Garden State coincided with the release of two statewide polls putting Obama for the first time within striking distance of Hillary Clinton.

Clinton had been outpolling Obama among the state's Democrats by nearly 20 points as recently as two weeks ago, and had locked up endorsements of the state's governor and much of the congressional delegation. But new surveys put him within six points. Obama appears to have benefited from John Edwards's departure from the race, and he is enjoying a 2-to-1 advantage among African Americans and broadening support among men and young voters, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey found.

The new results were announced as Obama arrived in North Jersey for campaign appearances, including a morning speech at the Meadowlands stadium in East Rutherford. The crowd of about 3,000 looked tiny in the vast arena, but they roared with delight at the surprise appearance of actor Robert De Niro, who turned up to give Obama a public endorsement.

Also campaigning in New Jersey today is Republican front-runner John McCain, who stumped briefly at a fire station in the Trenton suburb of Hamilton. "I can lead this nation and motivate all Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest," he told an enthusiastic crowd.

New Jersey's Republicans had been solidly in the Rudy Giuliani camp, but many of the state's GOP leaders have switched to backing McCain since the former New York mayor ended his candidacy.

A win on Tuesday for McCain would give him all of the state's 52 GOP delegates under a winner-take-all formula. Clinton and Obama will receive a proportional share of the state's 127 Democratic delegates.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 4, 2008; 7:34 PM ET
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