A week from Election Day, John McCain has consolidated in his base but slipped in the center, while Barack Obama is holding the line on taxes while advancing among middle class voters -- and just a little weariness is slipping into assessments of the candidates.
McCain's had some gains in his pushback on economy and trust to handle a crisis.
But he shows no progress on a third line of attack, taxes, and he's losing usually swing-voting independents by an 11-point margin and middle-income likely voters by 12 points.
For the first time since late September McCain has cracked Obama's double-digit margin in trust to handle the economy, now a 9-point Obama lead in this ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, down from 18 points last week.
And McCain's pulled about even in trust to handle an unexpected crisis, after trailing Obama by 9 points on this attribute Oct. 11. But it's still far from McCain's best on crisis management, a 17-point lead Sept. 7.
McCain, meanwhile, shows no progress on taxes, despite a steady push; Obama retains a 10-point lead in trust to handle them, including an improved 17-point margin in the much sought-after middle class. This traditionally is a Republican issue; the last Democrat to lead on taxes going into Election Day was Bill Clinton in 1992.
Head-to-head in vote preference it remains a 52-45 percent Obama-McCain contest among likely voters in this ABC/Post poll.
McCain's at or near his best support to date among conservatives and evangelical white Protestants, core Republican groups. But the 52-41 percent division among independents is Obama's best since Sept. 22, and his lead among middle-class voters is his best to date.
Enthusiasm for both candidates has flagged a bit.
Last week a high of 71 percent of Obama's supporters were "very enthusiastic" about his campaign; it's 65 percent now. And high-level enthusiasm among McCain's supporters has slipped about as much, from a high of 40 percent last week to 35 percent now.
Even with the edge off, Obama's enthusiasm continues to far outstrip McCain's. Obama's enthusiasm moreover, is higher -- and McCain's lower -- than in the 2004 presidential election.
Notably, among McCain's core groups, just 39 percent of evangelical white Protestants, 38 percent of conservatives and 36 percent of all Republicans who support him are very enthusiastic about it.
By contrast, among Democrats who support Obama 72 percent are very enthusiastic; liberals 71 percent; and blacks, 86 percent.
In the center, moreover, among independents who favor McCain, 33 percent do so very enthusiastically; among independents who support Obama, it's 52 percent.
On issues, the economy still dominates.
An overwhelming 54 percent call it the single most important issue in their vote, inching to a new high in ABC/Post tracking since Oct. 19.
Obama leads McCain among economy voters by 58-39 percent, a big lead albeit Obama's smallest margin in this group in the past month.