Local Politics

Poll: McCain has narrow lead against either Dem

Posted May 12, 2008 12:11 p.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2008 4:49 p.m. EDT

— Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain holds a narrow lead over either Sens. Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in a general election match-up, according to the latest WRAL News poll.

McCain led both Democratic candidates by three points, polling 48 percent against Obama and 43 percent against Clinton. That lead is within a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of sampling error with a 95 percent level of confidence.

A month ago, Obama and McCain were tied at 47 percent each.

In a Clinton-McCain match-up, 17 percent of the 500 likely voters surveyed said they were unsure of their choice or would chose a different candidate. That number dropped to seven percent in an Obama-McCain match-up.

Both McCain and Obama had favorable approval ratings over 50 percent (53 and 51 percent, respectively), while Clinton trailed with a 46 percent favorable rating.

Obama elicited stronger opinions from poll participants: 37 percent said they viewed him very favorably, and 30 percent, very unfavorably.

For McCain, the comparable numbers were 18 percent very favorable and 23 percent very unfavorable; and Clinton, 17 percent very favorable and 28 percent unfavorable.

McCain led strongly among men when placed against either Democratic candidate, garnering a 51 percent share of the male vote against Clinton and 52 percent against Obama.

Gender and income gaps

Both Democratic candidates drew more support from women, though Obama's was noticeably less: Clinton led McCain by 11 percent among that demographic, and Obama doing the same by 5 percent.

Clinton drew her largest share of support from lower-income voters. Fifty-one percent of those making under $40,000 annually said they would vote for her.

Obama kept the majority of the bracket of voters earning less than $20,000 a year, but lost those of voters making between $20,000 and $75,000 annually. McCain also got a majority of voters making more than $100,000 a year.

McCain led among self-identified investors by 20 points against Obama and 19 points against Clinton.

Issues that motivate voters

Against either Democratic candidate, McCain led by large margins among voters who identified national security, immigration or government ethics and corruption as the most important issue facing the country.

Both Democrats took the lead among voters picking health care or the war in Iraq.

Although 54 percent scored Clinton as the best candidate on Social Security, Obama lost to McCain by 30 points on that issue.

Forty-nine percent of survey participants expressed support for a federal gas tax holiday, while 41 percent said they are opposed to it.

Most – 54 percent – said they believe the federal government already has enough revenue, while 31 percent believe it needs more revenue to fund important programs.

By a three-to-one margin (60% to 20%), participants opposed an increase in the capital gains tax. Sixty-one percent said they believe such a tax hike would hurt the economy.

Rasmussen Reports conducted the telephone survey of 500 likely voters on May 8.

For poll results on the governor's race, watch WRAL News at 5 p.m. and log onto WRAL.com.