McCain leads in poll of likely voters

USA Today:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain moved from being behind by 6 points among "likely" voters a month ago to a 4-point lead over Democrat Barack Obama among that group in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. McCain still trails slightly among the broader universe of "registered" voters. By both measures, the race is tight.

The Friday-Sunday poll, mostly conducted as Obama was returning from his much-publicized overseas trip and released just this hour, shows McCain now ahead 49%-45% among voters that Gallup believes are most likely to go to the polls in November. In late June, he was behind among likely voters, 50%-44%.

Among registered voters, McCain still trails Obama, but by less. He is behind by 3 percentage points in the new poll (47%-44%) vs. a 6-point disadvantage (48%-42%) in late June.

Results based on the survey of 791 likely voters have margins of error of +/- 4 percentage points -- so McCain's lead is not outside that range. Results based on the survey of 900 registered voters also have margins of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Gallup editor Frank Newport tells Jill that "registered voters are much more important at the moment," because Election Day is still 100 days away, but that the likely-voter result suggests that it may be possible for McCain to energize Republicans and turn them out this fall.

Who is a likely voter? In this poll, Frank says, that was determined by how much thought people have given to the election, how often they say they vote and whether they plan to vote in the election in November.

...
Likely voters are always more accurate historically. It appears that voters saw through the hoopla of the grand tour and they also saw the dissembling on his answers about the surge and his belief that it was still wrong. It takes a real ideologue to be that willful blindness to the fact that he was wrong to oppose the surge. It exposed his bad judgment which he had made a cornerstone of his campaign.

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