Zogby: McCain Is Gaining, Race Tightens

Sunday, October 19, 2008 11:14 AM

Republican John McCain continued a slow advance on Democrat Barack Obama in the race for president, moving back within three percentage points as the race begins to head down the stretch run, the latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby daily tracking poll shows.

McCain now trails Obama by 2.7 points, down from the 3.9 point deficit he faced 24 hours earlier.

Seven-point-one percent of the likely voters surveyed said they remain undecided.

Obama lost five-tenths of a point from yesterday's report, while McCain gained another six-tenths of a point. It was the third consecutive day in which Obama's numbers slipped and McCain's numbers increased.

McCain has once again moved above 45% support overall, a mark he has not seen since the second day of daily tracking reports. Obama's slip under 48% support is the first time at that level in nearly a week. He now stands within one-tenth of a percent of where he stood when the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby daily tracking began almost two weeks ago. McCain is within two-tenths of a percent of where he was when the tracking poll began.

During the 13 days of the tracking poll, Obama has led by as much as 6.2 points and as little as 1.9 points.

Except for a few hours of polling, this three-day rolling average of telephone polling now includes a sample taken entirely after the final presidential debate last Wednesday.

The tracking poll includes 1,211 likely voters across the country who were surveyed between Oct. 16-18, 2008, at the rate of about 400 per day. The survey, conducted using live telephone interviewers calling from Zogby's call center in Upstate New York, carries a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

McCain made a big move Saturday among independent voters, cutting's Obama lead from 16 points to just 8 points. Now, Obama leads by a 46% to 38% margin, with the balance of independents either unsure or supporting someone else. McCain's strong performance at the Alfred E. Smith charity dinner in New York City Thursday, combined with his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night, may have had a positive effect. Other Zogby polling has recently shown that independent undecided voters tend to prefer consuming their politics in such entertainment venues. Obama was also praised for his performance at the Alfred E. Smith dinner.

Both candidates have remained strong among their political bases - McCain wins 90% of Republicans, compared to 88% of Democrats who support Obama.

Men are now, again, tilting very slightly in favor of McCain, who leads by just two percentage points among the group. Among women, Obama leads, but only by six points.

Obama continues to win 18% support among conservative voters, while McCain wins only seven percent among liberals. Among moderates, a demographic that includes substantially more Democrats than Republicans, Obama leads, 61% to 33% for McCain.

Among those who consider themselves investors, McCain retains a small, four-point lead - helpful but no where near as large a margin as Republican George W. Bush enjoyed over his Democratic rival four years ago.