Poll shows Obama has 7-point lead over McCain
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama has surged to a seven-point lead over John McCain one month before the presidential election, lifted by voters who think the Democrat is better suited to lead the nation through its sudden financial crisis, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that underscores the mounting concerns of some McCain backers.
Likely voters now back Obama 48-41 percent over McCain, a dramatic shift from an AP-GfK survey that gave the Republican a slight edge nearly three weeks ago, before Wall Street collapsed and sent ripples across worldwide markets. On top of that, unrelated surveys show Obama beating McCain in several battlegrounds, including Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa – four states critical in the state-by-state fight for the presidency.
Several GOP strategists close to McCain’s campaign privately fret that his chances for victory are starting to slip away.
These Republicans, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid angering the campaign, point to several factors: Obama’s gains nationally and in traditionally GOP states, no McCain boost from the first debate, McCain’s struggles with economic issues as the financial crisis has unfolded and deepening public skepticism about his running mate, Sarah Palin.
They said McCain’s options for shaking up the race are essentially limited to game-changing performances in the final presidential debates or in Palin’s vice presidential debate tonight with Joe Biden. Short of that, they said, McCain can do little but hope Obama stumbles or an outside event breaks the GOP nominee’s way.
Democrats hope Obama is starting to build a lasting lead.
“We have a light optimism,” said David Redlawsk, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention who teaches political science at the University of Iowa. “We’ve already learned in the last several weeks that we can be whipsawed back very, very quickly.”
Not all Republican insiders are pessimistic.
Obama’s failure to achieve a double-digit lead and maintain it “has given a lot of hope to Republicans,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. Yet he also allowed, “You can’t have a playing field that leans this heavily toward the Democrats and not be nervous.”
The poll shows McCain faces substantial hurdles.
With the perilous financial situation at the forefront of voters’ minds, 60 percent in the survey say it’s more important to them to choose a president who would make the right economic decisions than a commander in chief who would make the right decisions on national security. Obama leads among economic voters, with 63 percent support, while McCain is ahead among security voters, with 73 percent.
Obama led McCain on the questions of who would best improve the economy and handle the financial crisis. The Democrat also was seen as more likely than the Republican to understand how the crisis effects the average person.
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