High Hopes, Major Doubts for Obama and McCain Alike

While much was made in the primaries of Obama's relative weakness among working-class whites, he's actually doing better in this group than among better-off whites. Whites with less than $50,000 in household incomes split 49-40 percent toward Obama; those with $50,000-$100,000 income divide evenly, and those with higher incomes go broadly for McCain, 60-37 percent.

Obama continues to do best with younger voters, whose turnout is less reliable. In a related result, among registered voters under 50, 56 percent think Obama has enough experience for the job; among those over 50, 52 percent think he does not.

One likely question during the campaign is whether Obama did himself any damage by not picking Clinton as his running mate. On one hand, 32 percent of registered voters say that would have made them more likely to support him, vs. 20 percent less likely -- a bit of a differential. They are disproportionately former Clinton supporters, staying true to their preferred candidate for the top slot. But if it doesn't help Obama with this group, the Biden pick also looks not to have hurt: Fifteen percent of former Clinton supporters say his v.p. choice makes them more likely to support Obama, 11 percent less likely, with 70 percent saying it makes no difference.

Consistent with his continued challenges harvesting former Clinton supporters, Obama is losing some of his base: Seventy-nine percent of self-identified Democrats are supporting him, with 14 percent for McCain and 7 percent undecided. Obama will want to reel those undecideds in; Kerry and Gore each won more than 85 percent within their own party.

At the same time, McCain is seeing defections as well: Thirteen percent of Republicans are backing Obama. There are fewer Republicans out there this year; the trick for McCain is to keep his base motivated while also appealing to the center. But the trick for Obama -- as it's long been for any presidential candidate -- is essentially the same.

Poll: Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 19-22, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,108 adults, including an oversample of African Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population), for a total of 201 black respondents. Results among registered voters have a 3-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

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