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Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby Poll: Obama 48%, McCain 45% as presidential race enters final month

The race for President of the United States remains far too close to call between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain as the contest enters its last four weeks, and with a pair of crucial debates immediately ahead, the first report of the fall Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby daily tracking telephone polls shows.

The survey, including a three-day sample of 400 likely voters collected over each of the previous three days - Oct. 4-6, 2008 - shows that Obama holds a slight advantage amounting to 2.4 percentage points over McCain. This represents a bit of a recovery by McCain, who had been sliding in some polls before his running mate, Sarah Palin, put in a strong performance in her one and only debate performance last Thursday. Though a Zogby poll showed that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden actually won that debate, it also showed Palin far and away exceeded expectations, and that has apparently helped stop McCain's decline in the polls.

Three Day Tracking Poll

Obama 47.7 percent; McCain 45.3 percent; Others/Not sure 7.0 percent

The Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll, conducted by live telephone operators in Zogby's in-house call center in Upstate New York, included a total of 1,237 likely voters nationwide, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

Candidates Doing Well Among Their Own Party Members

The two candidates are doing well at attracting support from their own partisans - Obama is winning 86% of the Democratic Party support and McCain is winning 85% of the Republican Party support - but Obama has the edge among independent voters. He leads McCain among independents, 49% to 42%.

Obama wins support from a slightly higher percentage of conservative voters than McCain is winning from liberal voters, but the advantage is small.

Obama's edge also comes from a lead among women, where he holds a 51% to 42% advantage. McCain leads among men, but only by four points - 49% to 45%.

Among white voters, McCain leads Obama by a 55% to 39% margin, while Obama wins 90% support among blacks and leads among Hispanic voters by a 57% to 30% margin.

Both candidates have a positive favorability rating from likely voters nationwide, but McCain is seen a slightly more favorable light, the survey shows. While 57% said they have a favorable overall opinion of McCain, 55% said they held a favorable overall image of Obama. Among independent voters, an identical 57% hold a favorable view of both candidates.

With much made of the "new" voter this year, it is interesting to note that Obama has a notable edge over McCain among those who have registered to vote in the last six months. While 63% of those voters said they have a favorable opinion of Obama, just 47% said the same of McCain. It is worth noting that new voters tend to skew a bit younger, which are age demographics that favor Obama, the survey shows.

Public Remains Convinced U.S. Headed in Wrong Direction

No surprise in the poll that a vast majority feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. In this first of the daily tracking polls of the last month of the race for the White House, just 17% said the U.S. was headed in the right direction, while 74% said it was on the wrong track. The rest said they were uncertain. Republicans were decidedly more upbeat than Democrats - 28% of GOPers said things were on the right track nationally, while just 8% of Democrats agreed. Independents were somewhere in-between, as 14% said things were headed in the right direction.

Daily Tracking Continues

This daily tracking telephone poll will continue each day until the Nov. 4 election, keeping in touch with the daily twists and turns in the race for the White House. The running poll of about 1,200 likely voters consists of three days of polling - about 400 from each of the last three days. With each new day of polling that is folded into the poll, the oldest third of the survey is replaced with the fresh data, so the poll "tracks" movements and events in the campaigns. Keep up to date every day by visiting