Close Race: McCain Stays in Range Amid Challenges for Obama

The Issues

As noted, the closeness of the Obama-McCain standings contrast preferences on issues and attributes. Americans overall say they trust Obama over McCain by 2-1 or more on issues of special concern to women and environmental issues; by 15 to 20 points on health care, gas prices, the economy and energy policy; and by 8 points on taxes.

McCain for his part, leads by 14 points in trust to handle terrorism and holds a slim 6-point edge on international affairs. They're about even on the Iraq war and trust to handle appointments to the Supreme Court.

Obama has advantages on other issues, as well.

Seventy-seven percent say a president should meet with leaders of hostile foreign nations, rejecting the argument that this could reward their behavior and make the United States look weak.

The public by 2-1 gives a higher priority to providing health care coverage for all Americans than to holding down taxes.

Again by 2-1 Americans favor providing tax breaks for companies to develop alternative energy sources, rather than leaving this to the marketplace. And 63 percent continue to say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, with just 38 percent saying the United States is winning there. Each comes closer to Obama's position.

All these, again, return to an examination of why, given his advantages, Obama's not doing better against McCain – a question on which groups such as swing voters, Clinton supporters, ideological preferences, young voters and concerns about Obama's experience all play a role.

METHODOLOGY - This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone June 12-15, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,125 adults, including an oversample of African Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population), for a total of 201 black respondents. The results from the full survey 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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