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Hours left, Obama leads McCain: Poll
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November 03, 2008 11:13 IST

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama [Images] entered final hours of the election campaign with a solid, though narrowing, lead over his powerful Republican rival John McCain [Images].

A just-released Wall Street Journal poll shows the Democrat with an eight-percentage-point advantage, down from the 10-point edge he held last week. The Republican was still hoping he could gain further traction in the campaign's closing hours with now-familiar charges that Obama is too liberal and not ready for the job.

Obama's lead, reflected in other national and battleground state polls as well, has been in place since September, when the financial crisis reset the presidential contest. McCain's advisers were gunning for a come-from-behind victory, noting that he did it before to capture the Republican nomination, the Journal said.

51 percent for Obama

The new Wall Street Journal poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, found 51 per cent of likely voters favoured Obama, versus 43 per cent who favoured McCain.

Six per cent remained undecided, with a third of those saying they were leaning toward a third-party candidate. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

"The poll shows some slight movement for McCain. But with just 48 hours left, it's going to be a challenge to make up the rest of the difference," Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster who conducts the survey with Democrat Peter D. Hart, told the Journal.

"This poll has all the earmarkings of an electorate that has reached an opinion that Barack Obama would be a good president," Hart said. "The uncertainties [about Obama] that were so prevalent early in the year have just melted away."

McCain camp still hopeful

McCain advisers were of the view that, in the end, undecided voters will break his way and were quoted as saying they look more like typical Republican voters than Democrats. Both candidates were appealing over the weekend to that small pool of undecided voters, as they worked to turn their troops out to the polls tomorrow.

A handful of voters who participated in the survey and leading towards Obama told the Journal that a longing for change after eight years of a Republican White House and a hesitation about Sarah Palin [Images], the governor of Alaska, as McCain's running mate. Palin has electrified conservatives but turned off many others voters, the paper noted.

Among the poll's findings: Voters are just as likely to identify with Obama's background and values as they are with McCain's, with the Democrat having made up substantial ground in this regard. A large portion of those polled said they would be either optimistic or at least satisfied if Obama wins, figures comparable to other victors on the eve of their elections.

Obamania on the rise  

Obama also continues to win among key voter groups, leading among independents, suburbanites, Midwesterners and white Catholics.

Newhouse noted that McCain lags behind Bush's standings on Election Day in 2004 among several groups. McCain now has support of 54 per cent of white men, versus 62 per cent for Bush was supported by 44 per cent of Hispanics, a group McCain long thought he would also do well with. But the

Republican nominee this year is favored by just 27 per cent of Hispanic voters.

After the longest presidential race in history, the paper said, the electorate looks more engaged than ever, and turnout could shatter records.

153.1 million Americans expected to vote 

An estimated 153.1 million Americans will have registered to vote tomorrow, or 73.5 per cent of the eligible population, according to a study released by American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

That percentage is the highest since women were given the vote in 1920, beating the previous high of 72.1 per cent set in 1964.

Illustrating the headwind facing McCain, Democratic registration will have increased by an estimated 1.4 percentage points, or by 2.9 million, since 2004; Republican registration will have declined by 1,458,000.

30 percent voters already voted!

The poll found that 30 per cent of voters have already cast their ballots through absentee or early voting available in many states. The early voters' views reflect the overall electorate's.

Fully 58 per cent of those polled said they would be optimistic and confident or at least satisfied and hopeful if Obama were to be elected, compared to 46 per cent who said that about a McCain victory.

The Obama figure exceeds President Bush's on the eve of his twin victories and Bill Clinton's [Images] level just before he was re-elected.

The one warning for Obama in the poll regards the cloud of uncertainty about the economy. Only 42 per cent of voters expressed a great deal or quite a bit of confidence that if elected, Obama could get the economy back on track. That was better than 27 per cent for McCain, but still pessimistic.  


 Our coverage page on the US polls

We will fool the pundits, says McCain

Debate: Issues at stake in the US polls 


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