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John McCain and Barack Obama: Who do you love?*

June 13, 2008 |  8:41 am

* With a nod to the late Bo Diddley.

A new Diageo/The Hotline poll today again reinforces just how closely divided the national electorate is between John McCain and Barack Obama -- it has Obama up by 2 points -- but also has a couple of other nuggets to digest on a Friday morning.

First is the favorable/unfavorable rating. Obama tops McCain 57% to 52% in the favorable ratings, and similarly has lower unfavorable ratings, 33% to 37% for McCain. Both gaps are within the margin of error, yet suggest what we're likely to see as the campaign evolves -- efforts by the Republicans to whittle away at the gap and by Democrats to widen it.

Also, the poll found unity in at least one area among voters -- concerns about the economy, jobs and unemployment, with 31% of Democrats and Republicans both saying it should be the top priority for whoever wins in the fall. Independents? A little higher at 35% -- and those are the folks both sides need to woo.
Curiously, though, Democrats and Republicans split when asked what they thought was the most serious issue facing the country, with with 41% of Democrats saying the "economy in general," but only 27% of Republicans saying so. Second place for both was gas/fuel/oil prices, but with 21% of Republicans and 13% of Democrats. Add 'em together: 54% of Democrats said the economy and fuel prices, and 48% of  Republicans.

But those crucial independents?  The economy got 32% and fuel prices 21% for a combined 53%. And that's why you see both campaigns hammering away at those issues, with Obama trying to tie McCain to the Bush administration policies and McCain trying paint Obama as pushing higher taxes on people already feeling pinched.

The war in Iraq? Only 5% of Republicans listed it as the nation's most pressing issue, compared with 15% among the Democrats. But only 3% of the independents placed it highest. So as James Carville once famously said, "It's the economy, stupid." At least for right now.

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: Eric Leonard