Polls published over the past week by the Wall Street Journal /NBC, The New York Times/CBS, The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg” and The Pew Research Center have the candidates in a statistical dead heat with particular challenges emerging for each of the presidential hopefuls.
In the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Obama leads his Republican rival 45 percent to 42 percent, down from his six-point lead a month ago. Voters, according to the poll, are more confident in McCain’s potential as a commander-in-chief given his long military record.
The Arizona Senator, however, fails to inspire as much enthusiasm as Obama, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg had the same finding among Independent voters, who, in such a close race, could determine the next president.
“Sixty-one percent of the independents who support (McCain) say they are unenthusiastic about him,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Their poll shows Independents favoring Obama 47 percent to McCain’s 36 percent.
All four polls show the economy is by far the most important issue among voters, but the New York Times reported that voters feel both presidential candidates “aren’t paying enough attention to their priorities.”
“Both of them seem to more focused elsewhere, Iraq for one thing,” Democrat Truman Roe, 72, said in a follow-up interview to the poll, according to the New York Times.
The Pew Research Center gives Obama a slightly higher lead than his opponent with 47 percent to 42 percent, but it has fallen since late June.
There are two main explanations for McCain’s rise in popularity, Pew reports. The Republican base is beginning to coalesce behind their candidate, where they were largely divided before. Also, McCain’s image as a national leader has increased with his emphasis on foreign policy and campaign ads targeting his rival’s relative inexperience.
The Pew Research Center also says Obama has had a hard time gathering the Democratic base, many of whom may still be supporting former Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton.
“Seventy-two percent of (Clinton voters) support Obama, compared with the 88 percent support level that McCain receives from backers of his former GOP rivals,” Pew reported.
Sen. McCain’s campaign is confident the polls reflect a promising outlook for their candidate. “The poll shows how wrong the Washington conventional wisdom has been on this race,” said Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain strategist, referring to the Wall Street Journal’s poll.
The Journal also reports Sen. Obama’s “aides say they aren’t panicking, or shifting strategy.”