Obama, McCain Running Even, as Both Show Slippage

Posted May 29, 2008 at 2:34pm

Barack Obama is running about even in a general election match-up with John McCain in a Pew Research poll after holding modest leads over McCain in Pew’s previous three polls. The survey was conducted May 21-25 and has a 3 point margin of error. In the Democratic contest, Obama is comfortably ahead of Hillary Clinton by 54 percent to 41 percent. Pew says “the tightening general election matchup between Obama and McCain shows some sullying of Obama’s personal image over the past three months” although unfavorable views of McCain have risen as well.

Part of Obama’s weakness against McCain stems from his less-than-solid grip at the moment among frustrated Clinton supporters, just 46 percent of whom say they will back Obama if he is the nominee, according to the poll. That’s down 12 points from March. Obama has also lost ground among women (reflecting the same finding as a recent Gallup survey) where he is down 13 points among white women compared to March and among independents where his support is at 49 percent compared to 62 percent in late February. Most of McCain’s image decline is due to the increasing polarization among voters with 72 percent of Democrats now holding negative views of him compared to the beginning of the year when their opinions of him were split.