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Pure Horserace: A War For Women's Votes?

This weekend, talk-show host and entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey will host a fundraiser for Democrat Barack Obama in California. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the hometown paper of both Winfrey and Obama, the Illinois senator hopes Winfrey will not only help him raise money but also will appear both on the stump and in TV ads.

The fact that Obama's campaign wants to tout Winfrey's support so publicly is a signal that the campaign may have set its sights on trying to siphon off support from the two groups that, so far, have proven most loyal to Hillary Clinton: women and black voters. In many ways, Winfrey is the most successful and influential woman and African-American in the nation, so Obama couldn't ask for a better advocate to both groups. She can effectively dictate what appears at the top of The New York Times' best sellers' list. It seems that people flock to anything with her name on it - but will they be drawn to anyone, namely a presidential candidate?

Obama certainly hopes so, but Winfrey's endorsement isn't the only way he's trying to sway African-Americans and women. His wife, Michelle, has proven a charismatic and attention-grabbing presence on the campaign trail whose roots in the black community run deeper than those of her Hawaii-raised husband. And in San Francisco today, Obama will attend a lunch fundraiser for women donors, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

While Obama will continue to run on the broad themes of change and "cleaning up Washington," he'll also need to engage in some more-concrete tactics to take down the current front-runner. Going after Clinton's black and, especially, female voter base, though it fits that bill, may seem like a long shot, but Karl Rove has shown that tackling your opponent's supposed strengths can pay dividends. - David Miller

O So New To The Primary Process: Winfrey has let everyone know that her endorsement of Obama marks the first time she has ever publicly backed a presidential candidate. According to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, it's also likely to be the first time she's voted in a presidential primary in at least two decades.

According to voting records at the Chicago Board of Elections, reports Sweet, Winfrey has not voted in a presidential primary since at least 1988. Winfrey might want to make sure she gets to the primary polls this time around. With Illinois slated to vote on the oh-so-important "Super Duper Tuesday," the candidates will likely need every vote they can get. - Vaughn Ververs

The Less Religious You Are, The Better You Poll? That appears to be the case, at least according to a new Pew Research Center poll on how people view the religious beliefs of the top presidential contenders.

The survey found that only 14 percent of respondents think Rudy Giuliani is "very religious." Sixteen percent said the same about Hillary Clinton. Both rated last in their respective parties when it came to perceived religious fervor - yet both also lead in national polls of voters' presidential nominee preferences.

The trend continues down the line. The Republicans viewed as the most religious, in order, were Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson. Generally, they're in the exact opposite order, behind Giuliani, in polls of primary voters. The same was true of Democrats: John Edwards was seen as the most religious, followed by Obama.

That said, the poll shows that Americans don't think the front-runners are exactly heathens, either. Sixty-nine percent of those asked felt Clinton was at least "somewhat religious," the lowest of any of the seven candidates included in the survey. On the other end of the scale, 90 percent of respondents thought Romney was at least "somewhat religious." The real harbinger for Romney is that 1-in-4 said his Mormonism could be a turn-off - the only beliefs that were a larger liability were being an atheist or being Muslim. - David Miller

Thompson's Senate Friend: Sure, Fred Thompson is a TV and movie star, and now a presidential candidate, but how does he measure up to the King of Rock 'n' Roll? That question and many more are addressed by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in this week's installment of Political Players, which returns after a two-week hiatus. In his interview with CBS News' Brian Goldsmith, Alexander not only compares his Senate predecessor to Elvis Presley, but also tackles one of the leading complaints about Thompson: that he has no significant legislative accomplishments. To see what else this Senate supporter has to say, read this week's interview.

Editor's note: Pure Horserace is a daily update of political news as interpreted by the political observers at CBSNews.com. Click here to sign up for the e-mail version.

By David Miller and Vaughn Ververs

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