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Opinion: The Sarah Palin poll bounce for John McCain

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A John McCain strategist gained a lot of attention a few weeks back when she predicted a huge ‘bounce’ in the polls for Barack Obama following the Democratic National Convention.

The strategist was exaggerating for effect and, as most pundits had anticipated, Obama came out of his party’s confab in Denver with a solid — but by no means exceptional — uptick in his poll standing.

The big bounce, at least based on a new survey by the venerable Gallup Organization, was McCain’s to be had — apparently spurred in large part by the enthusiasm with which many voters have greeted his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate.

The poll, based on interviews done Friday through Sunday and conducted in conjunction with USA Today, finds that among all registered voters, the McCain ticket now leads Obama’s, 50% to 46%. That’s an 8-percentage-point turnabout in a matter of a few weeks; in a comparable survey taken Aug. 21 through Aug. 23, Obama led among registered voters, 47% to 43%.

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The change in attitude among those judged by the pollsters as likely voters was even more pronounced. In the new poll, McCain was ahead, 54% to 44%. Obama led in the August survey, 48% to 45%.

In the separate daily tracking poll that Gallup conducts, which averages three days of interviews with registered voters, McCain has jumped to a 5-percentage-points lead.

At a briefing during the Democratic convention, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe stressed that he or his staff make a point of ignoring the national polls, preferring to concentrate on what’s happening state by state. Still, it’s hard to imagine that these new results aren’t causing some heartburn at Obama headquarters in Chicago.

[UPDATE: Two other national polls released today gauge the race a flat-out tie. A CNN survey gave each candidate 48% among registered voters. A poll for the National Journal’s Hotline, which also quizzed registered voters, showed them with 44% apiece.]

— Don Frederick


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