First time voters
 
Voters took part at centres in more than 30 countries, by mail and fax and also for the first time via an online voting system.

Online votes were cast from 164 countries, the organisation said, including Antarctica, where a researcher at the US scientific mission at McMurdo cast his vote.

"With the US image so badly damaged by the present administration, American Democrats living overseas were eager to have their voices heard," Christine Schon Marques, international chair of Democrats Abroad in Geneva said in a statement.

"Across the board we saw an enormous diversity in participation, including many first-time voters."

Obama won 2.5 delegate votes while Clinton won two delegate votes.

An additional 2.5 delegate votes will be determined at the Democrats Abroad Global Convention in April. 

Democrats Abroad also holds four superdelegate votes, the organisation's website states.

New debate

On Thursday, Obama escaped unscathed from a debate which Clinton hoped to use to slow his surging White House quest, 12 days before their next electoral showdown.

 

New polls show Obama slashing Clinton's leads in her
must-win fortress states of Texas and Ohio [AFP]

Senator Clinton needed a game-changing moment at the debate at the University of Texas on Thursday, as polls showed her rival cutting her leads Texas and Ohio on March 4, states she must win to take the nomination.

  

Obama avoided serious gaffes, fought back against her claims that some of his oratory was plagiarised, and suggested her vote to authorise war in Iraq sparked questions about her leadership skills.

 

Clinton said: "If your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's, I think, a very simple proposition.

  

"Lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox."

 

But Obama rejected accusations that he had stolen language from Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts governor, as "silly season" politics and in a cheeky quip defended his speeches: "I've got to admit, some of them are pretty good."

 

Hours before the Democratic debate, there was more woe for Clinton, with new polls by The Washington Post and ABC News showing she and Obama tied in Texas and her lead was down to seven points in Ohio.