Two of the most-watched polls greet newshounds on Monday morning, as the New York Times/CBS News and Washington Post/ABC News national surveys delivered the headline that John McCain has come back from nowhere to lead the Republican pack, and while Hillary Clinton is clinging to the lead, Barack Obama is gaining.
Both polls say that the economy has now become the dominant issue in the campaign, and the Times/CBS poll says – as did the Gallup poll we reported earlier – that the mood of the public is dark.
The Times/CBS poll also underlines that the race on the GOP side is particularly fluid, with nearly three-quarters of Republican primary voters saying it was too early for them to be certain of their choices.
In the Times/CBS poll, Clinton leads Obama 42 percent to 27 percent. This is about the same as their standings in the previous survey in early December, but the big difference is that the number of Democratic voters seeing Obama as electable, more than doubled in the last month from 14 percent to 35 percent. The Washington Post/ABC poll produced a different result, showing Clinton’s lead as a narrower 42 percent to 37 percent, a big drop from the last survey. Both polls have a margin of error of 3 percent. John Edwards is at 11 percent in both polls.
On the Republican side, McCain is way in front at 33 percent in the Times/CBS poll, followed by Mike Huckabee at 18 percent, a rapidly fading Rudy Giuliani at 10 percent and Mitt Romney at 8 percent. “Undecided” beat both Giuliani and Romney. This was not good news for either, but particularly for Romney who is locked in a tight race in Michigan, where his home state advantage (his father George had been governor) should have put this more clearly in his column. In the Post/ABC poll, McCain leads with 28 percent, with Huckabee at 20 percent, Romney at 19 percent (another difference with Times/CBS) and one time frontrunner Giuliani at 15 percent. Fred Thompson has 8 percent and Ron Paul has 2 percent