Thursday, October 23, 2008

AP Poll: Obama 44 %, McCain 43%

AP Poll: Obama, McCain Running Neck and Neck

Thursday, October 23, 2008 2:30 PM

The presidential race has grown much closer with John McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters as the election nears, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll Wednesday.

The new poll finds Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent and suggests that the race narrowed as more conservative voters have drifted home to their party as the Nov. 4 election approaches.

It comes as McCain fights the perception that Obama is the better candidate to turn around a teetering financial sector, skyrocketing foreclosures and higher unemployment.

McCain has seized recently on Obama's tax plans as socialist redistribution, a message he pushed yesterday in Democratic-leaning New Hampshire and that may have gained some traction among conservatives. Obama brushed aside McCain's claims the same day.

Three weeks ago, an AP-GfK survey found Obama had surged to a seven-point lead over McCain, lifted by voters concerned about the economy. The contest is still volatile and the new AP-GfK head-to-head result is a departure from some, but not all, recent national polls.

And earlier Wednesday a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll claimed Obama had expanded his lead over McCain in to 10 points.

McCain has been hammering Obama on his tax plan in the past week. The Democratic senator has proposed a reversal of President George W Bush's tax cuts that mainly benefited the wealthy.

The additional revenue, Obama contends, would offset tax breaks he wants to give to the 95 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 annually.

"Apparently, as my opponent sees it, there's a strict limit to your earnings as well, and it's for the politicians to decide. The proper amount of wealth is not what you can earn, but what government will let you keep," McCain told supporters in New Hampshire, a traditionally anti-tax state he hopes to woo to his side.

Obama said he just wanted to reverse the Bush cuts that McCain initially opposed.

"Was John McCain a socialist back in 2000" when he opposed President Bush's proposals, Obama asked at a news conference.

"It's not a very plausible argument," he said of the late-campaign allegations launched daily by McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.

Obama made his remarks at a news conference after a meeting with national security advisers focused on international affairs.

The Illinois senator gained a huge boost on the foreign policy front over the weekend when longtime Republican Colin Powell, former secretary of state under Bush, endorsed him.

Powell's backing helps Obama undercut McCain's perceived dominance on foreign policy issues.

Obama convened the meeting of retired generals and foreign policy mavens from Washington and the diplomatic world at a grand, historic hotel in Richmond, Virginia, a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1964. Polls show Obama with a slight lead there.

Obama said he did not want the financial crisis, despite its global reach, to overshadow the many serious foreign policy problems that continue unchecked, including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need to battle terrorism and the rising influence of China.

"The world has apparently not decided to take a pause while we campaign," Obama said as the group sat down to meet for about an hour.

"We didn't want to lose sight of the fact that we still have some urgent issues that need to be dealt with."

McCain's strong showing is partly attributable to his strong debate performance; Thursday was his best night of the survey. Obama's best night was Sunday, hours after the Powell announcement, and the full impact of that endorsement may not have been captured in any surveys yet.

According to recent state polls, Obama is edging close to the number of electoral votes needed to win the White House in America's state-by-state process of choosing a president.

© 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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