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Poll: Obama Maintains Double-Digit Lead

With just twelve days left until Election Day, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama holds a 13-point lead over Republican rival John McCain, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows.

Obama now leads McCain 52 percent to 39 percent among likely voters nationwide, roughly the same lead he held last week. Just five percent are undecided, and more than 9 in 10 of each candidate's supporters say their mind is made up.

Obama's lead among independent voters, who have swung back and forth between the candidates, has fallen 12 points since last week - though the Democratic nominee still holds a 45 percent to 39 percent edge among the group.

Obama has been more successful in evoking a positive response from voters: Sixty-two percent say they feel personally comfortable with the Illinois senator. Far fewer - 47 percent - feel comfortable with McCain. In fact, a slightly higher percentage - 49 percent - report feeling "uneasy" about the Republican nominee. Thirty-four percent feel uneasy about Obama.


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An increasing number of voters see McCain as running a negative campaign. Sixty-four percent say the Republican is spending more time attacking the other candidate than explaining what he would do as president, up 11 points from last month. Just 22 percent say the same of Obama.

The Democratic nominee is much more likely to be seen as having the temperament and personality to be president, and he holds a big advantage on handling the economy.

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He is widely expected to win the presidency, with likely voters predicting an Obama victory by more than three to one.

Views Of The Candidates

Seventy-five percent of registered voters say Obama has the temperament and personality to be president, up 6 points from last week. Nineteen percent say he does not. Only 50 percent say McCain has the proper temperament and personality, while nearly as many - 45 percent - say that he does not.

When it comes to confidence in handling a crisis, Obama has a slight edge. Forty-nine percent say they are confident that Obama can deal with a crisis, while 47 percent are uneasy about the prospect. Forty-six percent are confident in McCain to handle a crisis, while 51 percent are uneasy.

In early September, McCain held a large lead on preparedness to be president, with 71 percent saying he is prepared versus 48 percent for Obama. While McCain still holds an advantage on this question, his lead has shrunk. Now 64 percent say McCain is prepared for the job, while 56 percent say the same of Obama.




Sixty-five percent of voters are either very or somewhat confident in Obama to make the right decisions on the economy. A majority - 52 percent - are not confident in McCain on the economy. While 60 percent say Obama's policies will favor the middle class or poor, nearly the same percentage say McCain's policies would favor the rich.

When it comes to handling the war in Iraq, the candidates are now about even. Though voters are more likely to be "very confident" in McCain (32 percent) than Obama (28 percent) to make the right decisions on Iraq, they are also more likely to be at least somewhat confident in Obama (56 percent) than McCain (53 percent).

Obama holds a dramatic lead on confidence in handling health care, with 69 percent expressing confidence in him and 41 percent expressing confidence in McCain.

Obama continues to hold the lead on understanding the needs and problems of Americans, with 68 percent saying he understands their needs and 42 percent saying McCain understands. The Democratic nominee holds a wide edge on inspiring voters, with 53 percent saying Obama inspires them about their future and 27 percent saying the same of McCain.

Both candidates are seen as relatively honest, though Obama holds a slight edge. Fifty-three percent say Obama is more honest than most public officials, while 46 percent say McCain is more honest. Twelve percent say Obama is less honest, and 13 percent say McCain is less honest.

Obama is also seen as more clear about what he would do: 81 percent say he is clear about his plans. Sixty-five percent say McCain is clear about what he would do as president.

Obama holds a wide edge on favorability. More than half of registered voters - 52 percent - have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. For McCain, the percentage that views him unfavorably - 46 percent - exceeds the percentage that views him favorably - 39 percent.

The Vice Presidential Candidates, The Candidates' Spouses And The Powell Endorsement

Voters continue to hold a net negative view of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, with 31 percent viewing her favorably and 40 percent viewing her unfavorably. They hold a far more positive view of Democratic counterpart Joe Biden, with 43 percent viewing him favorably and 20 percent unfavorably.


Just 33 percent of Independents view Palin favorably. Thirty-nine percent view her unfavorably. Shortly after the Republican convention, 46 percent of Independents held a favorable view of the Alaska governor. Biden is viewed more favorably (37 percent) than unfavorably (25 percent) among the group.

Views of both Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain are more positive than negative, though many voters do not hold an opinion. Michelle Obama's favorable rating is 36 percent, her unfavorable rating is 16 percent, and the percentage who are undecided or don't know is 46 percent. For Cindy McCain, the majority are undecided or don't know, while 26 percent view her favorably and 15 percent unfavorably.

Ret. General Colin Powell, who recently endorsed Obama for president, is viewed favorably by 54 percent of voters. That's higher than either presidential candidate, but lower than the 67 percent who held a favorable opinion of him in 2004. Just 11 percent hold an unfavorable view of Powell.

The former Secretary of State is viewed more positively by Obama supporters than McCain backers, and while 51 percent of Republicans hold a favorable view of Powell, that number is down from 85 percent four years ago.

Demographic Groups And Uncommitted Voters

Obama leads among men (50 percent to 41 percent), women (55 percent to 37 percent), moderates (56 percent to 34 percent) and voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries (78 percent to 16 percent). He also leads 52 percent to 42 percent among a group he had difficulty with during the primaries -- white working class voters.

McCain leads among Republicans (83 percent to 11 percent), conservatives (68 percent to 26 percent), white evangelical voters (69 percent to 21 percent) and whites making more than $50,000 per year (48 percent to 43 percent).

The race is essentially even among whites overall (including both white men and white women) and whites with no college degree.

The number of voters who can be considered uncommitted - they are either completely undecided or have not completely committed to their candidate - is dwindling. Just 13 percent of likely voters in this poll are uncommitted.

Uncommitted voters are generally not highly educated and are more likely to be 45 or older, and a majority live in rural areas. Though they are not highly partisan - more than one in three describe themselves as independent - they voted for George W. Bush over John Kerry by nearly two to one four years ago.

Race In The Campaign

Most registered voters do not believe the policies of either Obama or McCain would favor blacks over whites, or vice versa. But one in ten say Obama would favor blacks over whites, and one in five say McCain would favor whites over blacks.

McCain supporters are more likely to expect Obama to favor blacks over whites (24 percent say he will), while Obama supporters are more likely to expect McCain to favor whites (33 percent say so).




One in three registered voters claims to know someone who is not supporting Obama because he is black. A smaller but still substantial percentage, about one in five, claims to know someone who is backing Obama because of his race.

The 2008 Congressional Elections

The Democratic Party continues to hold a substantial lead overall in the 2008 elections for the House of Representatives. Forty-eight percent of likely voters say they plan on voting for the Democratic candidate in their district's House race, while 36 percent plan to vote for the Republican candidate.

Fifty-six percent of Americans view the Democratic Party favorably, while only 36 percent have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party. At 60 percent, the Republican Party's unfavorable rating is the highest percentage ever recorded for either party.

McCain has recently been campaigning on the idea that a Republican administration will be a necessary check on a Congress that will likely be Democratic. Americans are divided on the question. While 41 percent think it is better to have the executive and legislative branches controlled by different parties, nearly as many - 36 percent - would rather have them be controlled by the same party.


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1152 adults nationwide, including 1046 registered voters, interviewed by telephone October 19-22, 2008. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample and the sample of registered voters could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
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