Friday, October 3, 2008

Obama Leads, Women Abandon McCain

BARACK Obama has vaulted ahead of his Republican rival John McCain, gaining ground in pivotal states and among women voters, new polls have showed.

Gaining momentum after the first presidential debate and amid a grave financial crisis, Democratic candidate Senator Obama now enjoys a seven-point lead nationally and has widened his lead in crucial states - including Florida, Virginia and Nevada - needed for victory on November 4, according to a new Time/CNN poll.

Another poll by Quinnipiac University had Senator Obama pulling ahead in the battlegrounds of Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Florida - a state that only weeks ago appeared out of reach for the Democrat.

With the troubled economy dominating the campaign, the Illinois senator and Senator McCain headed back to Washington to vote on a revised $US700 billion ($880 billion) Wall Street bailout plan designed to stem the country's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Time/CNN survey shows Senator Obama hitting the threshold of 50 per cent, the first time a Democratic White House candidate has done for decades, while Senator McCain was hemorrhaging support among women voters.

Senator Obama, vying to become the first African-American president, was leading 50 to 43 per cent overall, up from 46 per cent to 41 per cent before the two parties held conventions a month ago, the survey said.

He also was leading with women, 55 per cent to Senator McCain's 38 per cent, the poll said.

Senator Obama had a formidable nine-point lead in Virginia, an 11-point edge in Minnesota and was ahead by four points in Nevada and Florida, the Time poll showed.

Senator McCain meanwhile had lost his advantage in Missouri, where the race was now a virtual tie with Senator Obama ahead by one percent.

One McCain aide acknowledged the Arizona senator had an uphill battle.

"When you run for president in an historically challenging political climate, when the party is historically unpopular, and a crisis threatens to make the economy collapse, it is always going to be challenging," McCain communications adviser Nicolle Wallace told AFP.

"But I think ... in the next 30 days John McCain will be recognised and appreciated by voters for his leadership."

Former US president Bill Clinton, openly critical of Senator Obama during the battle for the Democrat nomination, gave a full-throated endorsement today, saying the Illinois senator was better placed to handle the economic crisis.

Mr Clinton told a crowd in Fort Pierce, Florida, that Senator Obama "has a better understanding of these very complicated economic problems and better advisors".

The Quinnipiac University polls found voters trust Senator Obama more to handle the financial turmoil, and that he seems to be convincing Americans he is ready to be president.

The polls also suggest Senator Obama won Friday's presidential debate and that Senator McCain's running mate Sarah Palin is suffering from sliding popularity, after a stunning initial impact on the race.

The stakes will be high for Mrs Palin in a vice-presidential debate today against her more experienced Democratic counterpart, Senator Joseph Biden. Mrs Palin, a first-time Alaska governor and political unknown until a month ago, faces intense scrutiny after her performance in a few television interviews.

"It is difficult to find a modern competitive presidential race that has swung so dramatically, so quickly and so sharply this late in the campaign," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute.

The surveys show that in Pennsylvania, Senator Obama leads Senator McCain by a gaping 54 per cent to 39 per cent after the debate, compared to 49 per cent to 43 per cent before the debate.

He is up 51 per cent to 43 per cent in swing state Florida, compared to a 49 to 43 per cent lead before Friday's first of three debates.

And in Ohio, Senator Obama is up eight points.

Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio have a history of shaping presidential elections. No candidate has won the presidency since 1960 without securing two of the three battlegrounds.

The Pew Research Center meanwhile gave Senator Obama a seven-point national lead yesterday over Senator McCain with 49 to 42 per cent and a separate Washington Post/ABC national poll found Senator Obama holds a slim lead over Senator McCain, drawing 50 per cent support from likely voters against 46 per cent for Senator McCain.

The Quinnipiac polls among likely voters in the three states were conducted in two groups, between September 22 and 26, and September 27 and 29. The maximum margin of error was 3.4 per cent.

The Time/CNN poll questioned 1133 likely voters from September 26-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Source: TheAustralian.News.Com.Au

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