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Opinion: New polls -- one national, one from Ohio -- have glad tidings for Obama

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With the Democratic presidential race finally settled, there’s been a ‘modest bump’ for Barack Obama in the Gallup organization’s continual nationwide survey of voter preferences.

Today’s report showed Obama leading John McCain by 6 percentage points, 48% to 42%.

The pollsters write that Obama ‘has consistently held a lead of 5 to 7 percentage points each night since it was reported that Hillary Clinton intended to suspend her campaign. These represent Obama’s strongest showing versus McCain to date’ in the daily tracking poll.

Obama’s forces no doubt are heartened by that; McCain’s strategists will be heartened if the margin stays roughly at that level over the next few days and doesn’t escalate to double digits.

Both campaigns, though, appreciate that in our electoral college system the national figures, which are indicative of a general trend, aren’t nearly as useful to them as readings from certain key states, such as those from the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll, which released some new results today.

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The survey questioned more than 1,300 state residents -- a large sample group -- from mid-May through early June. It eschewed candidate matchups, focusing instead on two other matters: attitudes toward President Bush and the state’s governor, Democrat Ted Strickland (assumed to be on Obama’s starter list of veep prospects).

The findings on Bush delineate the challenging environment for McCain in Ohio, currently considered an absolute must-win for him in his White House quest. The president’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the state is slightly better than it was a month ago, but it still represents a stiff wind McCain must overcome.

In an April survey, 74% of Ohioans disapproved ...

... of Bush’s job performance, with 25% approving -- a whopping 49-percentage-point gap. The current numbers are 68% disapproval, 29% approval -- a still daunting 39-point margin for the Republican seeking to replace him.

Strickland, a former congressman who rode GOP disarray into the governorship in 2006, posted strong overall job performance ratings: 61% of his constituents said they approved of how he’s done, 25% said they did not.

But an additional finding -- on his handling of the economy -- could undercut Strickland’s running-mate potential. His approval figure dropped to 51% on this issue, while his disapproval number rose to 38%.

Peruse the entire poll here.

On the subject of Ohio, also worth reading is this look by The Times’ Peter Wallsten at discontent within the state’s Republican ranks over McCain’s organizational efforts -- or more precisely, the lack thereof.

-- Don Frederick


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