Obama inching ahead in tight US prez race

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New York, Sept.29 : Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign to wrest the White House from Republican rival John McCain has gathered steam.

Over the past fortnight, the Illinois Senator has managed to narrow McCain's lead and is now up by as many as six or seven points.

Pollsters say that's in part because the vital independent voters are now shifting his way.

"There are still a substantial number of independents that are undecided, principally independent women," says pollster John Zogby.

"But as a group, they've begun to swing over to Obama, but not in large enough numbers yet to close the deal," the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) quoted him, as further saying.

There are a variety of reasons for this shift in the dynamics of the presidential race.

First is the steady stream of bad economic news. Polls consistently show that voters think Democrats are better at handling the economy.

Then there's the way Senator McCain reacted to the crisis. Initially calling the fundamentals of the economy strong, he then decided the crisis was so bad he needed to suspend his campaign, even calling for a postponement of the first presidential debate on Friday.

There's also the Sarah Palin factor. She continues to energize the Republican base. But in her recent interview on CBS, the Alaska governor did not appear to have a grasp of a variety of issues.

That's prompted some women conservative columnists, who once supported her, to call for her to step down for the good of the party.

Governor Palin's favorability ratings among independents are also going down as her unfavorable ratings are on the rise.

Friday night's debate in Oxford, Miss., which did happen despite McCain's calls to have it postponed, has also helped Obama.

A number of post-debate polls show that most viewers thought the Illinois senator did a "better job."

A USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday also found that by a 52 percent to 35 percent margin, viewers thought Obama offered better proposals to solve the country's problems.

"The economy is the issue that looks like it's going to dictate this election," says Darrell West, the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

McCain's demeanor, particularly during the second part of the debate, may also have hurt him with some independent voters.

"There were times McCain came across as too angry. That's a style of delivery that's going to scare some undecided voters, and it's also a style that women don't like, and there are more undecided women than men," said West.

"Obama showed that he belonged there, he was on equal footing with the 72-year old war hero," says pollster Zogby.

But this is a race that remains tight and can change. The tentative deal on an economic bailout package and how it's finally resolved could again change the dynamics of the race.

ANI

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