The Fox News poll is relatively unchanged from last month’s which Obama led 41%-40%, but Obama has lost ground in both the NBC News, and CBS News polls that show Obama leading 45%-42%. The Fox News poll has Obama leading McCain by a point with Independents, 31%-30%, but the CBS News poll has McCain leading among Independents, 48%-36%, and the NBC poll concentrated on Hillary Clinton and issues.
One of the big reasons for Obama’s decline in the polls is that his favorability rating has dropped substantially since John McCain began his negative campaign against him. In the Fox News poll, Obama’s favorability rating has fallen to 59%. Obama had a 39%-32% favorable/unfavorable split in the CBS News poll.
However, there is danger ahead for McCain if he continues his negative campaign. In the CBS News poll, McCain is viewed as spending more time attacking his opponent (52%) than explaining what he would do (38%). In the NBC poll, 29% of those surveyed said that McCain is running a negative campaign compared to 5% for Obama.
All the polls agree that Obama leads on domestic issues such as the economy, healthcare, and the environment, and McCain leads on foreign policy and terrorism. Obama is still plagued by questions about his experience. In the CBS poll, 49% of those surveyed said that Obama was not prepared for the job, while 68% said that John McCain was. 31% of those asked in the Fox poll said that what they liked least about Obama is that he is inexperienced.
In many voters’ minds, Obama has yet to satisfactorily answer the experience question, and if he is to win in November, he has to reassure voters that he can handle the job and this where picking a running mate with experience becomes critical. Voters are already noticing that John McCain is running a very negative campaign. At some point, if McCain wants to win, he is going to have back off the negativity, or he will feel a voter backlash. Taken together these three polls paint the most accurate picture of where this contest stands, how it got there, and the questions that will determine its future direction.