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McCain: Poised to Make a Comeback?

John McCain's campaign had been all but declared dead earlier this summer after poor fundraising in two consecutive quarters and a major staff shakeup, but recent polling shows that the hemorrhaging has stopped. Could McCain emerge from these depths still a contender?

In the Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week, his support stabilized at 18 percent, enough for a second-place tie with newly-minted candidate Fred Thompson.

In national polling, McCain hit a low-point at 7 percent in a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll in late August. Their new poll shows that he has since more than doubled his support and stacks up well against other Republicans on crucial candidate attributes.

McCain rates second (behind Giuliani) as the most hardworking, the strongest leader and on having the right experience. He ties Thompson for second-most "honest and trustworthy" and ties Giuliani (behind Mitt Romney) as the second-most "personally moral."

And these perceptions have yielded relatively high favorability ratings. At 49 percent overall and 61 percent among Republicans, McCain is viewed more favorably than either Thompson or Romney, though they are less widely known that the two-time presidential candidate.

But positive impressions nationally may not have carried over to key early voting states. The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg surveys of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina Republicans released earlier this week found that the Arizona senator faces large deficits in all three states.

In Iowa, a state where McCain did poorly in 2000, he has the support of 7 percent of likely caucus-goers, tied with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. He fares slightly better in New Hampshire and South Carolina, at 12 percent and 15 percent respectively.

But in all three states, McCain will have to prove his national appeal in order to break out of the pack. As of now, just 6 percent in Iowa, 7 percent in New Hampshire and 9 percent in South Carolina say he "has the best chance of beating the Democratic candidate." Whether his scaled-down operation can make the case for his electability remains to be seen.

Perceptions of John McCain:

Q: Regardless of how you plan to vote, I'd like you to tell me whether
each of these words or phrases better describe Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson or John McCain...

                                McCain  Giuliani  Thompson  Romney                 
Has the right experience          26       35        12        7
Hardworking                       20       28        12       10
Has clear stands on the issues    19       25        16       11
Strong leader                     19       43        11        9
Personally moral                  17       17        12       24
Honest and trustworthy            17       26        17       11
A real conservative               16       13        23       16

SOURCE: FOX News/Opinion Dynamics survey; responses among Republicans

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  September 17, 2007; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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