Post-ABC Tracking: Better Know A Candidate
As the last days of the 2008 presidential campaign unfold, voters seem poised to make an informed choice next week, though voters are divided about whether issues or personal traits are a more important factor.
New data from the Washington Post-ABC News daily tracking poll shows nearly eight in 10 feel knowledgeable about the candidate's issue positions, up from about six in 10 in June for both candidates.
About four in 10 voters emphasize personal qualities, while 45 percent place greater weight on the issues. One in 10 said both are equally important.
Independents have shifted markedly over the past few weeks on whether issues or qualities rate as the more important factor in their vote. In mid-October, 33 percent cited a candidate's leadership abilities, 55 percent placed a higher priority on issues. Now, they divide about evenly.
Barack Obama holds a commanding lead among those prioritizing issue positions, leading John McCain 67 percent to 30 percent. McCain's edge among those more concerned with personal qualities is smaller, 56 percent to 40 percent. And that margin has narrowed somewhat: Earlier in the month, McCain held a 61 to 40 percent lead among personality voters, Obama's lead on the issues side was 68 to 29.
Both white and African American voters are divided evenly on the question, and among white voters, it is Obama's advantage on issues (22 points) that is the thinner one (McCain holds a 34 point lead among whites who prioritize personal qualities).
Both candidates appear to have made headway over the past four months in conveying their views on the issues. The proportion of voters who said they know a "great deal" about each candidate's issue positions has nearly doubled since June, however, a sizable one in five said they feel they know little about the candidates views.
Increases have come across party and ideological lines, with independents logging the steepest gains. In June, just 13 percent of independent voters felt they had a solid grasp on Obama's issue positions, 14 percent said so of McCain, now it's 43 percent for both.
Surprisingly, partisans on both sides were a bit less apt to feel well informed than independents. Just 36 percent of Republican likely voters said they felt very well informed about McCain's views, up from 19 percent in June, it's 40 percent of Democrats on Obama's side, up from 22 percent four months ago.
Among independents, 35 percent of likely voters said they felt they knew a great deal about both men vying for the presidency, an additional 38 percent felt they knew at least a good amount about both. Just one in 10 felt ill-informed on both sides.
Full data from the Washington Post-ABC News daily tracking poll can be found here.
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