Poll Finds McCain More Trusted & Qualified
Obama’s lead over John McCain has disappeared…
Pew’s latest survey finds 46% of registered voters saying they favor or lean to the putative Democratic candidate, while 43% back his likely Republican rival. In late June, Obama held a comfortable 48%-to-40% margin over McCain, which narrowed in mid-July to 47% to 42% – And now Obama has dropped yet another point, while McCain has moved up one, statistically making it an even race.
There are two main reasons for shifting voter sentiment
First, McCain is beginning to get more support from his base – including Republicans and white evangelical Protestants – than he was in June, due to increased negative reaction from that segment to Obama, and he also has steadily gained backing from white working class voters over this period. Secondly and more generally, John McCain has made gains on his leadership image. An even greater percentage of voters than in June now see McCain as the candidate who would use the best judgment in a crisis, and an increasing percentage see him as the candidate who can get things done.
Voters citing McCain as the candidate who “would use good judgment in a crisis” and as the candidate who “can get things done” has increased significantly since June. More than half of voters (51%) now say McCain would use good judgment while 36% say the phrase better describes Obama; in June, McCain held a narrower 9-point advantage. Opinions about which candidate can get things done are closer (42% name McCain and 40% name Obama); in June, Obama held a edge (43% to 37%), and now that slim lead is gone.
The Republican “base” being slow to warm up to McCain coupled with Obama’s lack-luster performance, and more folks in the middle deciding Obama is too left for them is at play. No doubt Obama’s “Me Tooism” shift on the Georgia situation, where Obama, was initially slow out of the gate to discern if Russia was the agressor, feeds into the poll numbers showing McCain is better qualified and more likely to use good judgment in a crisis. Look for McCain’s numbers to go up again, once newer polling, taken over this weekend, allow the voters to factor in the Georgia crisis. See this post.
Pew Research also found:
- McCain has also improved his advantage as the candidate who is “willing to take a stand, even if it’s unpopular.” Nearly half of voters say this phrase better describes the Republican candidate (48%), compared with 38% who say it better describes his Democratic opponent. In June, voters were about as likely to name McCain (44%) as they were to name Obama (41%).
- As was the case in June, voters are somewhat divided on whether the phrase “honest and truthful” better describes McCain or Obama. 39% see McCain as the more honest candidate and 36% name Obama.
- When asked to pick what troubles them most about Barack Obama, about a third of McCain backers (34%) say his personal abilities and experience. But a substantial number – adding to a majority overall – cite Obama’s positions on either foreign policy issues (22%), economic issues (15%) or social and moral issues (16%) as the most troubling thing about him.
- Obama’s policy positions trouble far fewer of his own backers, but worries about his personal abilities and experiences are just as widespread. Overall, 32% of Obama backers say this is what troubles them most about Obama. Among those who say they back Obama “only moderately” rather than strongly, fully 43% cite Obama’s personal abilities and experiences as what troubles them most.
- Another area of distinction lies in what voters say they “like most” about the two candidates. For John McCain, his personal abilities and experiences stand out as the most liked trait among both his backers (46%) and Obama’s backers (37%).
- Relatively few Obama supporters (17%) cite his personal abilities and experiences as what they like most – nearly twice as many (32%) cite this as what troubles them most about Obama. And while foreign policy is what troubles Obama supporters most about McCain, it does not stand out as a particular strength for Obama – just 14% of Obama supporters say this is what they like most about him.
- While most Obama supporters can cite something that they “like most” about John McCain – with his personal abilities and experiences topping the list – a majority of McCain supporters (53%) say that they don’t like Obama on any of these fronts.