Poll: Obama Maintains Comfortable Lead

generic poll data polling numbers Barck Obama John McCain CBS/iStockphoto

With less than one week until Election Day, Barack Obama maintains a clear lead over John McCain in the presidential race, a new CBS News/New York Times poll suggests. The Democratic nominee now leads his Republican rival by 11 percentage points, 52 percent to 41 percent, among likely voters nationwide.

A small percentage of these voters could still switch sides: The figures include both firm supporters of each candidate and those who lean towards one or the other but have not fully committed. These so-called leaners, however, make up less than 10 percent of each candidate's support, a sign that significant movement in the campaign's final days is not likely. Just five percent of the likely voters surveyed remain completely undecided.

Seventeen percent of registered voters say they have already voted, either by absentee ballot or at early voting sites, and this group favors Obama by a large margin. The 13 percent of registered voters casting ballots for the first time favor Obama over McCain by two-to-one.

Intense feelings surround the prospect of either candidate being elected. Fifty-seven percent of likely McCain voters say they are scared about Obama becoming president, while 47 percent of Obama voters are scared of a McCain presidency.

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The McCain voters who are scared of an Obama presidency feel uneasy about the Illinois senator's ability to handle an international crisis, and they do not think he shares the values of most Americans. These voters are more likely to older, and many are evangelical Christians.

Obama voters scared of McCain becoming president think the Arizona senator does not understand their needs and problems. These voters are more likely to be women, and liberal, and about a quarter of them are African American.

An enthusiasm gap remains between the candidates: While roughly half of Obama's supporters are excited about their candidate being elected, just 22 percent of McCain voters feel the same.

More than half of both Obama and McCain's supporters say it is "extremely" important their candidate become president, and an additional third say it is "very" important.

Positions On The Issues:

Most registered voters believe that both Obama and McCain could work with the opposition party, with 70 percent arguing that Obama could reach across the aisle and 66 percent saying McCain could.

But on the economy - the most important issue to a majority of voters in making a choice for president - Obama has a clear advantage. A majority of registered voters say Obama's policies would make the economy better, while half as many say they would make the economy worse. By contrast, nearly as many expect McCain's policies to make the economy worse (31 percent) as expect his policies to make the economy better (32 percent).

Low income voters, in particular, expect Obama's policies to help the economy and McCain's to make things worse.

McCain does have a slight edge when it comes to raising taxes, a topic he has focused on in recent weeks. Fifty percent of those surveyed expect Obama to raise the taxes of people like them, while 46 percent expect McCain to do so. Vast majorities believe Obama would raise taxes on big business and McCain would not.

Sixty-six percent believe an Obama administration would result in more Americans having health care. Just 23 percent think this would happen in a McCain administration.

A majority believe McCain's policies would lead to more U.S. involvement in Iraq. Eighty percent say Obama's policies would result in less involvement with the country.

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