WASHINGTON - With voters’ increased confidence in his ability to serve as commander in chief, as well as a majority who now believe he would do a good job as president, Barack Obama has opened up his biggest advantage over John McCain in the latest Wall Street Journal poll.
With two weeks to go until Election Day, Obama now leads his Republican rival by 10 points among registered voters, 52 to 42 percent, up from 49 to 43 percent two weeks ago.
Obama’s current lead is also fueled by his strength among independent voters (topping McCain 49 to 37 percent), suburban voters (53 to 41), Catholics (50 to 44) and white women (49 to 45).
In early September, after the Republican National Convention, McCain was ahead with independents and Catholics, and narrowly trailed Obama among suburban voters.
“To me, the voters have reached a comfort level with Barack Obama,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “The doubts and question marks have been erased.” Newhouse adds, “Obama’s beginning to meet a threshold of acceptance among voters.”
Palin’s drag on the ticket?
That doesn’t appear to be the case with McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin. Fifty-five percent of respondents say she’s not qualified to serve as president if the need arises, up five points from the previous poll.
In addition, for the first time, more voters have a negative opinion of her than a positive one. In the survey, 47 percent view her negatively, versus 38 percent who see her in a positive light.
That’s a striking shift since McCain chose Palin as his running mate in early September, when she held a 47 to 27 percent positive rating.
Now, Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy - ahead of continuing President Bush’s policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.
By comparison, voters’ top concerns about Obama include, in order:
• Being too inexperienced.
• Being too liberal.
• Raising taxes on some Americans.
• Being too influenced by people like his former pastor Jeremiah Wright and the ‘60s radical Bill Ayers.