Bottom Line: Personal Attributes Elevating McCain

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates that voters who care more about personal attributes are flocking to John McCain. Barack Obama, on the other hand, does better among voters who care more about the issues.

"World News" anchor Charles Gibson went inside the numbers with chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

CHARLES GIBSON: Our chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos joins us now. George, I want to start with a quote from Rick Davis, who is John McCain's campaign manager. He said recently, "The election is not about 'issues' but rather 'a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.'"

When you plumb the numbers from the most recent ABC News poll it does seem that people take away different things?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Very, very different things, Charlie. The Obama campaign has been hitting him hard for that comment for the last week and neither side is flying blind. Look at these numbers in our ABC News poll. If you look at voters who care more about issues than personal qualities Barack Obama has a 19 point advantage -- 56 to 37. For those voters who care more about personal attributes McCain has a 17-point advantage. They're really mirror images of each other and there's some history here, Charlie, as well.

If you go back to the last real close election back in 2000, Vice President Al Gore was trouncing Gov. Bush on the issues but Gov. Bush was trouncing him on personal qualities.

CHARLES GIBSON: Interesting. Key constituencies. There really are some constituencies John McCain, really, has to do well with to win and he seems to be doing better in this poll.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: These are the swing groups that any candidate has to do well with to win. First of all, independents, [McCain and Obama] had been tied coming into the convention, now John McCain has opened up a small lead, about a 7 point lead over Barack Obama. Also, white Catholics, who almost always go with the winners in national elections, McCain has opened a huge lead there (by) 23 points. And, you know, again, this also goes back to the issue of women, so much of what has happened here is independent women, Catholic women have moved over to John McCain since that convention.

CHARLES GIBSON: All right. George Stephanopoulos. Thanks very much.

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