Obama leads McCain in November match: Reuters poll
Wed May 21, 2008 7:15am EDT
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama has
opened an 8-point national lead on Republican John
McCain as the U.S. presidential rivals turn their
focus to a general election race, according to a
Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
Obama, who was tied with McCain in a hypothetical
head-to-head matchup last month, moved to a 48 percent
to 40 percent lead over the Arizona senator in May as
he took command of his grueling Democratic
presidential duel with rival Hillary Clinton.
The Illinois senator has not yet secured the
Democratic presidential nomination to run against
McCain in November.
The poll also found Obama expanded his lead over
Clinton in the Democratic race to 26 percentage
points, doubling his advantage from mid-April as
Democrats begin to coalesce around Obama and prepare
for the general election battle with McCain.
"Obama has been very resilient, bouncing back from
rough periods and doing very well with independent
voters," pollster John Zogby said. "The race with
McCain is going to be very competitive."
The poll was taken Thursday through Sunday during a
period when Obama came under attack from President
George W. Bush and McCain for his promise to talk to
hostile foreign leaders without preconditions.
Obama's gains followed a month in which he was plagued
with a series of campaign controversies and suffered
two big losses to Clinton in Pennsylvania and West
The poll was conducted after Obama denounced his
former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who made a
series of public appearances that rekindled a
controversy over his inflammatory comments on race and
Obama also survived a furor over his comments about
"bitter" small-town residents who cling to guns and
religion out of frustration over their economic
Obama edged closer to clinching the Democratic
nomination on Tuesday when he split two nominating
contests with Clinton, beating the New York senator in
Oregon and losing in Kentucky to gain a majority of
pledged delegates won in state-by-state nominating
The results put him within easy range of the 2,026
delegates needed for the nomination. Just three
Democratic nominating contests remain before voting
concludes on June 3.
OBAMA BETTER ON ECONOMY
The poll found Obama was seen as a better steward of
the economy than McCain, leading 48 percent to 39
percent. McCain led Obama by 3 points last month on an
issue that is certain to be crucial in their campaign.
Obama led McCain among independents, 47 percent to 35
percent, and led among some groups of voters who have
backed Clinton during their Democratic primary battle,
including Catholics, Jews, union households and voters
making less than $35,000 a year.
McCain led among whites, NASCAR fans, and elderly
voters. McCain led with voters who believed the United
States was on the right track, and Obama led with the
much higher percentage of voters who believed it was
on the wrong track.
"Clearly voters are looking for change. Every problem
Obama has had in consolidating his base and reaching
to the center, John McCain has the same sort of
problem," Zogby said.
"It's McCain's lead among voters over the age of 65
that is keeping him within shouting distance of
Obama," he said.
The poll found Clinton, who has shrugged off calls to
quit the Democratic race, tied at 43 percent with
McCain in the national poll. She led McCain by 47
percent to 40 percent on who would be the better
manager of the economy.
Obama and Clinton have refrained from attacking each
other in recent weeks as Obama has turned his focus to
But Zogby said the attacks on Obama by Bush and
McCain, who have been critical of his willingness to
talk to leaders of countries like Iran, did not appear
to hurt Obama. If anything, he said, it reminded
voters of McCain's ties to Bush, whose approval rating
is still mired at record lows.
"The president is so unpopular. To inject himself into
a presidential campaign does not help John McCain,
particularly when McCain is tied to Bush," Zogby said.
The national survey of 516 likely Democratic primary
voters had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The poll of the national race between McCain and the
two Democratic contenders surveyed 1,076 likely voters
with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)
(For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit
Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)