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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before