New Track: The Economy, Taxes At Center Stage
Barack Obama's advantage on handling the economy dips to single digits in today's Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll, but his lead on handling taxes has held relatively steady through John McCain's hits on the topic on the campaign trail.
The presidential vote in the new poll holds steady at 52 percent for Obama to 45 for McCain, among likely voters.
Voters prefer Obama on the economy 52 to 43 percent, a nine-point margin, and McCain has also nudged up among "economy voters," the 54 percent of the probable electorate who said the economy is the single most important issue in their vote. Last week, Obama led by nearly 2 to 1 among these voters; it remains a hefty, but diminished 58 to 39 percent advantage for the Democrat.
The nine-point edge Obama currently holds as the candidate more trusted to handle the economy is half what it was in the middle of last week when he was up 56 to 38 percent and lags behind his post-convention average of 13 points. The decline has been most pronounced among whites with household incomes below $50,000.
A week ago, Obama held a 17-point lead on handling the economy among this group (54 to 37 percent), now, 49 percent prefer McCain, 46 percent Obama. The shift among whites with higher incomes, however, has been slightly toward Obama.
McCain has attempted to woo voters across income categories with an appeal on taxes, but this poll shows little evidence of movement. For example, white voters from under $50,000 households are about evenly split on the issue now: 46 percent favor Obama's approach, 44 percent McCain's. That is almost exactly where they were a week ago (45 percent Obama, 43 percent McCain).
Among all voters, Obama remains on top on dealing with taxes. Likely voters side with him over McCain, 51 to 41 percent, about the same as the Obama advantage throughout October. Coming into the month, the two ran about evenly on the issue.
Those in households with six-figure annual incomes are about evenly split on the taxes question, 49 percent favor McCain, 46 percent Obama, though in vote preference, the group favors McCain, 54 percent to 46 percent.
Along political lines, independents favor Obama on both points; by an 11-point margin on the economy and by 9 points on taxes. Obama's overall lead on both issues marks the biggest for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Today's tracking poll also measures the candidates against each other on handling an unexpected major crisis. On handling a sudden emergency, each candidate has held a big lead at some point during the fall campaign, with McCain up 15 points the weekend after the nominating conventions and Obama up nine in mid-October.
Among independents, 49 percent said they trust McCain more to 41 percent for Obama. Obama has not held a significant lead among those in the political middle during the fall campaign.
Full data from the Post-ABC Tracking poll can be found here.
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