Daily Tracking Poll: First-Time Voters Go Big for Obama; Economic Worries Drag on McCain

It's the Economy...Again

Urban residents, as it happens, also are the most focused on the economy; 58 percent call it the single most important issue in their vote, compared with 46 percent of rural likely voters (suburban residents fall between the two). Partisanship fuels some of this; Democrats also are more focused on the economy, and they're more numerous in urban areas, Republicans in rural ones.

The economy overall continues to dominate; it's far and away the No. 1 issue to voters overall, cited by 52 percent. And as reported separately Tuesday, ABC/Post data show continued high levels of economic unease – with a dramatic effect on vote preferences.

Eighty-five percent of likely voters are worried about the economy's direction the next few years, 44 percent "very" worried; two-thirds are worried about their own family's finances, one in four very much so.

It matters: Among people who are "very" worried about the economy, Obama leads by 65-29 percent. Among everyone else – somewhat worried, or not too worried or not worried at all -- McCain leads, 54-43 percent.

With no high-level economic worry, in theory, there'd be no Obama lead.

Economic Worries Boost Obama Support

The differences aren't quite so stark on personal finances; here Obama leads by a wide margin among the very worrieds (by 66-27 percent) and by 10 points among somewhat worrieds.

Those who aren't so worried split evenly; McCain leads only among those who aren't worried about their family finances at all. His problem is that they account for just 12 percent of likely voters.

Likely voters trust Obama over McCain to handle the economy, by 55-38 percent in the latest results. Obama also retains a narrower advantage on taxes, 50-43 percent, in four days of interviews completed Monday night -- an issue the two have contested especially sharply since Joe the Plumber entered the stage.

Obama's 17-point lead in trust to handle the economy is the largest for any candidate since Bill Clinton's in 1992 – the last time economic discontent approached its levels today.

On taxes, similarly, Obama's advantage this cycle is the first for a Democrat in ABC/Post pre-election polls since Clinton's in '92.

And as it happens, the weekly ABC News Consumer Comfort Index on Tuesday dropped to within a point of its record low in 22 years of weekly polls.

METHODOLOGY: Interviews for this ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll were conducted by telephone Oct. 17-20, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,324 likely voters, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results on economic worry were conducted Oct. 16-19 among 1,336 likely voters. Results have a 2.5-point error margin for the full sample. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

Click here for PDF with charts and questions.

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