A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that came out Thursday found the two U.S. Democratic presidential hopefuls in a dead heat, each with 45 percent support from registered Democratic voters.
That is a slight improvement for Sen. Barack Obama, though a statistically insignificant one, from a similar poll held two weeks ago, which had New York Senator Hillary Clinton leading by 47 percent to 43 percent among Democratic voters.
While Clinton still leads among white Democrats, her edge shrank to eight points (49 percent to 41 percent) from 12 points in early March (51 percent to 39 percent).
That seems to refute widespread speculation -- and fears among Obama backers -- that the Illinois senator would lose white support in his bid to be the nation's first African-American president over the controversy surrounding his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. of Chicago.
Had that erosion happened, party leaders' reassessment of Obama's electability could have tipped the race in Clinton's favor.
For Obama, weathering the episode could strengthen his standing among party leaders nationwide -- or the super delegates -- whose votes will likely break the impasse.
Meanwhile, in hypothetical match-ups for November's general election, Obama still edges Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona by 44 to 42 percent.
That is nearly the same result as in the early March poll.
But Clinton, who likewise had a narrow advantage over McCain in the earlier survey, trails in this one by two points, 44 percent to his 46 percent.
The poll was conducted March 24-25, a week after Obama delivered a generally well-received address on race.