CBS/NYT POLL SHOWS MCCAIN STRATEGY BACKFIRING…. In recent weeks, the McCain campaign has gone to considerable lengths to change the subject of the campaign away from the economy and towards guilt-by-association attacks. It now appears McCain badly miscalculated, and misjudged the public’s expectations.

The McCain campaign’s recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking.

Over all, the poll found that if the election were held today, 53 percent of those determined to be probable voters said they would vote for Mr. Obama and 39 percent said they would vote for Mr. McCain.

McCain’s favorability rating has dropped to 41%, while, Obama’s has risen to 50%, the highest ever in a CBS/NYT poll. What’s more, 69% said Obama has the right kind of temperament and personality to be president, which is 16 points higher than McCain’s number on the same question.

It wasn’t too long ago that a McCain campaign staffer told a reporter that the Republicans would lose if they focused on the economy. The campaign got it backwards.

Independent voters, in particular, have fled from McCain. Whereas the last CBS/New York Times poll showed McCain leading Obama among independents by a healthy margin, the new results show a huge swing to the Democrat, who now leads McCain among independents by 18 points, 51% to 33%.

Eric Kleefeld went through the poll’s internals and found another interesting tidbit: “More registered voters think John McCain would raise their taxes than think Barack Obama would, a sign that the Obama campaign’s constant assault on McCain’s health plan — and its taxation of health benefits — has been paying off.”

This is quite a surprise. The poll found that a 46% plurality believes Obama would raise their taxes, while a 51% majority believes McCain would raise their taxes.

Maybe it’s the healthcare pushback, or perhaps voters are just convinced that their taxes will have to go up no matter who wins. Either way, this was a lynchpin of the McCain/Palin strategy, and the message isn’t connecting.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.