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This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Feb. 26)

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are polls apart in Texas.

Disparate results from two local TV station polls conducted in the past week make it anyone's guess whether Hillary Clinton is slipping fast or still holding her own against Barack Obama.

WFAA8 chimed in on Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscast with the first "exclusive" results of a Belo/WFAA Texas Tracking Poll, conducted by Public Strategies, Inc. from Feb. 24-25.

A night earlier, CBS11, in partnership with KRLD-AM radio, released the latest results of a poll done by SurveyUSA from Feb. 23-25.

WFAA8, with Brad Watson dispensing the facts and figures, said that Clinton still clings to a 46 to 43 percent lead over Obama, with the poll's margin of error (plus or minus 4.4 points) basically making it a dead heat.

Her lead with Hispanics remains firm at 63 to 30 percent, Watson said.

In the far less hotly contested Republican race, John McCain leads Mike Huckabee by 59 to 29 percent overall. But his edge among "Christian conservatives" is just 47 to 42 percent, Watson reported. And with crossover voting allowed, "McCain might not get the winning margin he's planning on," in Watson's view.

One more thing. Public Strategies Inc. polled 507 Texans who are "likely to vote" in the Democratic primary, and 293 like-minded Republicans, according to data on WFAA8's Web site.

CBS11, with Jay Gormley doing the honors, gave the impression that Clinton is "losing her grip" across the board. The station's first poll, released on Monday, Feb. 18th, had her ahead of Obama by 50 to 45 percent (with a margin of error of 3.8 percent). A week later, Gormley said, she trails Obama by 49 to 45 percent.

Her pulling power with Hispanics also is in virtual free-fall, CBS11 reported. A 30-point lead over Obama has melted to 13 points in the week between polls, Gormley said. That's a considerable difference from the aforementioned WFAA8 results.

McCain has a 56 to 32 percent lead over Huckabee in the CBS11 poll. And his edge with respondents who say they're pro-choice is 50 to 40 percent.

SurveyUSA polled more Democrats (704) and more Republicans (484) than Public Strategies, Inc. did, according to data provided here and here on CBS11's Web site.

Polls were notoriously wrong in New Hampshire, at least for the Democratic primary. WFAA8, which plans to put out a nightly "tracking poll" until the March 4 primary, so far has Clinton in better straits momentum-wise than the CBS11 poll does. But no matter they're sliced, their respective statistical margins of error make it two ongoing dead heats for the Democrats.

Hillary's unpredictable husband, Bill Clinton, also appeared in North Texas Tuesday for a series of daytime speeches delivered from pickup trucks. Charitably put, attendance was sparse. And by the time the late night newscasts rolled around, Big Bill had been reduced to a virtual non-person.

NBC5 had no coverage of him at all while WFAA8 and CBS11 offered sub-brief video blips.

Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast gave him some quality time, although most of it was via reporter Shaun Rabb's "inside look" at preparations for his appearances, all of which saw him arriving typically late.

Rally-goers did get free Mexican food, though, and "at each event, mariachis," Rabb reported.

Fox4 also was home to the first late night news campaign commercial from Huckabee, The 30-second spot billed him as both a "Christian Leader" and an "Authentic Conservative," with Huckabee saying, "Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me."

He further zeroed in on the Christian conservative vote by declaring, "I believe life begins at conception."

And In Other News . . .
Fox4 and NBC5 both did a good job of humanizing the escalating number of home foreclosures in Texas, according to newly released statistics.

The Peacock's Scott Friedman visited a DeSoto neighborhood to interview a man who's unsuccessfully been trying to sell his home at discount prices in a neighborhood "hit by a wave of foreclosures."

Fox4's Jason Overstreet, reporting from Plano, told viewers that a police presence is required when banks move in to remove the remaining contents from foreclosed homes. That's because it can be a dangerous situation if the aggrieved former resident is on the premises. But the time spent policing such situations means that other police duties can suffer, including warrant-serving.

***Starbucks got tons of free publicity from Tuesday night's three-hour nationwide closings to retrain employees in the are of making drinkable espressos. But at least Fox4's Jeff Crilley turned it into an expanded and interesting piece on how competitors hoped to take advantage.

***WFAA8's Steve Stoler went some extra miles to track the abuse of HOV lanes by single-passenger vehicles.

While stationed on the Legacy Drive overpass above Central Expressway, "we counted 29 solo drivers" in 30 minutes, he said. Moving on to the Parker Rd. overpass, the tally was 30 soloists in 10 minutes.

Limited entrances and exits to and from the HOV lanes make it hard for transit police to catch offenders, Stoler said. But increasing those numbers would slow HOV traffic. Which is another way of saying that law-abiders again can count on getting screwed.

***CBS11 reporter Ginger Allen returned with yet another lengthy narration of a story aimed directly at keeping women viewers from tuning out.

This time, however, the station didn't try to pass off a fellow CBS-owned station's reporting as a "CBS11 investigation," as it did on Monday night's 10 p.m. news.

The report, on "Mommy Make-Overs," at least originated from North Texas instead of Florida. Allen never appeared on-camera, nor did any other CBS11 reporter. But the station did appear to be shooting its own interview footage.

***WFAA8 wrapped up its Tuesday late nighter with overhead footage of shark-infested waters near Boynton Beach, Fla.

Sports anchor Dale Hansen, again wearing a camel-colored plaid sportcoat that only anchor Gloria Campos seems to like, joked that a shark would throw the thing back if he became its dinner.

"Surely, he wouldn't finish you," weatherman Pete Delkus jabbed, still mining fat jokes despite Hansen's newly svelte appearance.

It was a funny line, though, and Hansen laughed all the way to Nightline.