Post/ABC poll offers McCain no relief

POST/ABC POLL OFFERS MCCAIN NO RELIEF…. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Barack Obama leading John McCain nationally by 10 points, 53% to 43%, pointing to a race in which “the two presidential nominees appear to be on opposite trajectories.”

Oddly enough, while trailing by 10 has to be discouraging for the Republican ticket, it’s the details of the poll that look even worse.

Nearly two-thirds of voters, 64 percent, now view Obama favorably, up six percentage points from early September. About a third of voters have a better opinion of the senator from Illinois because of his debate performances, while 8 percent have a lower opinion of him. By contrast, more than a quarter said they think worse of McCain as a result of the debates, more than double the proportion saying their opinion had improved. McCain’s overall rating has also dipped seven points, to 52 percent, over the past month.

Looking through the internals, good news for McCain is hard to find. Voters prefer Obama on the economy, healthcare, and tax policy. A clear majority believe Obama is “about right” ideologically, while a plurality see McCain as “too conservative.” Poll respondents perceive Obama as the “safer” choice between the two candidates.

In a result that will surely sting at McCain campaign headquarters, Obama has a 30-point lead — 58% to 28% — on which candidate better understands the economic problems facing Americans.

In a result that will sting even more, Obama also enjoys a 14-point lead on which candidate is the “stronger leader,” a question on which McCain used to enjoy a double-digit lead.

As for the results of the McCain campaign’s recent tactics, 59% of voters said McCain is “mainly on the attack.” Just 35% believe McCain is addressing the issues — about half the number (68%) who believe Obama is doing so.

And just to top things off, the enthusiasm gap is evident once more — 61% of Obama supporters described themselves as “very enthusiastic” about their candidate, while 38% of McCain supporters said the same. McCain’s number is down eight points since early September.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.