- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The latest presidential polling data suggests trouble ahead for Barack Obama and indicates that John McCain has made substantial gains in recent weeks. Early indications are that the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate has energized Republican conservatives in support of Mr. McCain, who has gained ground with female voters and independents. A Gallup poll released yesterday showed that support for Mr. McCain among independent voters increased by 12 percentage points in recent days, with support increasing from 40 percent to 52 percent - Mr. McCain’s largest share since Gallup began tracking the race. On Monday, Mr. McCain took a 49 percent to 44 percent lead over Mr. Obama in the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll of registered voters - a six-point bounce since before the Republican convention. According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll published Monday, Mr. McCain has opened a 10-point lead over the Illinois Democrat among likely voters, with 54 percent of the vote compared to Mr. Obama’s 44 percent. Shortly before the Republican convention, USA Today/Gallup showed Mr. Obama ahead by two points on the question of who is a more decisive leader; the latest poll showed Mr. McCain 11 points ahead on that question.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday contains more troubling news for the Democratic nominee. In June, he held a 32-point lead over Mr. McCain on the question of who would do more to change government. According to the poll released two days ago, the Obama lead on this question has shrunk to 12 points. On other issues, Mr. McCain leads Mr. Obama by 10 points on dealing with the war in Iraq and by 17 points on the question of who is trusted to handle an unexpected major crisis. In areas where he has lagged behind Mr. Obama, which included energy policy and the economy, Mr. McCain has narrowed the deficit with Mr. Obama to five points (the economy) and two points (energy).

White female voters, in particular, have been moving toward Mr. McCain in the wake of the Palin selection and the Republican convention, with Mr. McCain gaining 20 points according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll: Pre-convention, Mr. Obama had an eight-point lead among this group; the latest poll shows Mr. McCain holding a 12-point advantage. On handling the economy, Mr. Obama led Mr. McCain by 12 points with these voters before the Democratic convention. Today, Mr. McCain holds a 10-point lead in this area. On Iraq, the two were tied among white women in late August; the latest results show Mr. McCain 22 points ahead of Mr. Obama. The data show similarly large trends in Mr. McCain’s direction in areas including energy, values and consistency in positions on issues.

Despite the state-by-state tallies, which do paint a brighter picture for Mr. Obama, for now it seems the McCain campaign is surging forward.

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