Whites Lift McCain to Slim Lead Over Obama in Poll

Alan Fram, AP, September 12, 2008

An overwhelming advantage in experience and lopsided support from working-class and suburban whites have lifted Republican John McCain to a slender lead over Barack Obama less than two months from Election Day, a poll on the presidential race said Friday.

The Arizona senator has a 13-percentage-point lead over his Democratic rival both with men and senior citizens, and a 23-point advantage among rural residents, according to the Associated Press-GfK Poll of likely voters. He’s also doing better than Obama at consolidating support from party loyalists: 94 percent of Republicans back McCain, while 83 percent of Democrats prefer the Illinois senator.

Obama has good news, too. He’s preferred two-to-one by those who say the nation’s economy is in poor shape—a strong position on an issue many surveys say is the public’s top worry. He also has an 18-point advantage among voters who look more to a candidate’s values and views than experience, and his weak showing with whites is generally no worse than Democrat John Kerry did in his losing but close 2004 race against President Bush.

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McCain leads Obama by 55 percent to 37 percent among whites. That includes margins of 24 points with suburban whites and 26 points with whites who haven’t finished college, plus similar advantages with white men and married whites.

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Obama leads 61 percent to 35 percent among voters under age 30. He has about a 5-to-1 edge with minorities and narrow advantages with college graduates and women, though he trails among white women 53 percent to 40 percent.

Asked if they prefer a presidential candidate with solid experience or one whose values and views they support, two-thirds picked the latter. While those preferring experience overwhelmingly back McCain, people opting for a contender’s values say they’ll back Obama over McCain, 56 percent to 38 percent.

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