Economy proves costly for McCain's poll lead

The financial storm that has been battering Wall Street has also blown away John McCain's lead in the presidential race, where a five-point lead in some polls has turned into a five-point deficit within three days.

With 46 days to go until America votes, opinion polls are volatile, but the shift in momentum to the Obama campaign has underlined his rival's apparent vulnerability on the economy.

A clutch of new polls showed a lead for the Democrat, with The New York Times/CBS News poll giving him a 48-43 margin over the Republican Mr McCain. The gap is within the margin of error in all of the polls, but represents a significant shift.

Barack Obama was intent on pressing home the economic attack. He promised to bring change by challenging the "old boys network" in Washington. "In the McCain campaign that's called a staff meeting," he quipped.

But Senator McCain was on the offensive at an enthusiastic rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He blamed regulators who were "asleep at the switch" for the meltdown of the financial system, rather than the banks who had made the bad housing loans. They had "turned the financial markets into a casino," he said.

To cheers, he declared that he would fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates Wall Street.

The McCain camp's attempt to distance itself from the economic legacy of President George Bush, a fellow Republican, is having limited effect so far. The latest polls reveal that despite his efforts, voters believe he is far less likely to make changes than his adversary. The Arizona senator is still seen as a "typical Republican" who would entrench current unpopular policies, rather than get the country back on track.

The daily crop of grim news from Wall Street has sent shockwaves across America, where voters live in dread of losing their jobs as the fallout triggers a tide of company closures and job losses.

The latest polls also show that the "Palin effect" – the bounce the McCain campaign enjoyed after the nomination of Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin, as the vice-presidential candidate – has run its course. There was an initial surge of interest in the McCain-Palin ticket, especially among white women voters, which energised the evangelical conservative base of the Republican Party.

But scrutiny of Governor Palin's record on issues such as abortion and her inexperience on the national stage appears to have rallied the so-called "Clinton Democrats" to the Illinois Senator's side. Some observers believe she may soon become a liability to the Republicans. Her "favourability score" averaged across four recent polls gives her the worst scores among the four candidates for the White House and vice-presidency.

At the heart of the intensifying race for the White House is a tug-of-war between the two campaigns over independent voters, who are notoriously fickle. After switching to the McCain ticket following the Republican convention they are now roughly split, according to a different Quinnipiac university poll, which put them at 46 per cent for Mr Obama and 45 per cent for Mr McCain yesterday. The New York Times gives Mr Obama a major lead among voters aged 18 to 44, while his rival leads by 17 points among white men and by the same margin among voters aged 65 and over. Middle-age voters – 45 to 64 – are evenly split between the two.

The Obama campaign hopes it can stay focused on the economy. But the first presidential debate in Mississippi next week will focus on foreign policy, where Mr McCain is generally seen as stronger. Surveys give him a substantial advantage over his rival as the potential commander-in-chief. And for the first time, a majority of Americans say that the "surge" of US troops in Iraq, which Mr McCain advocated, has made a big difference there.

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital