McCain appears to be gaining ground, leading polls

What was once forecasted to be a good year for Democrats, and a good year for Barack Obama in particular, hasn’t quite panned out yet. Most polls between Obama and McCain show them very close, now one is even showing McCain with a 5 point lead.

Story from Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama’s solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.

The reversal follows a month of attacks by McCain, who has questioned Obama’s experience, criticized his opposition to most new offshore oil drilling and mocked his overseas trip.

The poll was taken Thursday through Saturday as Obama wrapped up a weeklong vacation in Hawaii that ceded the political spotlight to McCain, who seized on Russia’s invasion of Georgia to emphasize his foreign policy views.

“There is no doubt the campaign to discredit Obama is paying off for McCain right now,” pollster John Zogby said. “This is a significant ebb for Obama.”

McCain now has a 9-point edge, 49 percent to 40 percent, over Obama on the critical question of who would be the best manager of the economy — an issue nearly half of voters said was their top concern in the November 4 presidential election.

That margin reversed Obama’s 4-point edge last month on the economy over McCain, an Arizona senator and former Vietnam prisoner of war who has admitted a lack of economic expertise and shows far greater interest in foreign and military policy.

McCain has been on the offensive against Obama during the last month over energy concerns, with polls showing strong majorities supporting his call for an expansion of offshore oil drilling as gasoline prices hover near $4 a gallon.

Politico is also reporting that McCain scored a bump from his performance at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Saturday:

He clashed with their leaders in his 2000 campaign. He struggled to gain their votes during the 2008 primaries. And he still doesn’t spend much time talking about the issues they consider most important.

But after Saturday night’s televised forum at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., John McCain has taken an important step toward shoring up his support among the Republican Party’s Christian conservative base.

Even as speculation swirls that McCain could choose a running mate who supports abortion rights — a move that would surely anger Christian conservatives — the presumptive Republican nominee is enjoying a lift from his performance in last weekend’s forum.

“We’re getting tons of phone calls left and right,” said George Andrews, the executive director of the Orange County, Calif., Republican Party. “Overall, people have been calling and saying John McCain did an outstanding job.”

The forum, hosted by Rick Warren, the pastor of the 22,000-member Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling book “The Purpose-Driven Life,” featured back-to-back, hour-long interviews with both McCain and his general election opponent, Barack Obama, on subjects ranging from abortion and judicial nominations to personal moral failures.

A report from CBS News on McCain’s advantage of the convention timing:

This isn’t all bad news for Obama, I’m just betting that at some point each candidate will be up and down in the polls since that is the flow of a political campaign. McCain has had some good weeks with some very good press. Obama’s message has faltered a little, especially on offshore drilling and the abortion question at the Saddelback Forum.

We’ll see if the Obama VP choice turns these polls around, plus there is the convention coming up which always gives each candidate their own separate bounce in the polls.