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Gallup Poll update: Barack Obama and John McCain essentially dead even

July 31, 2008 |  3:12 pm

We've paid a lot of attention to Gallup polls this week, in the wake of seemingly contradictory results by the most-famed brand name in gauging public opinion. By one Gallup measure, John McCain was up; Barack Obama had a solid lead in a different survey by the company and a narrower advantage among a third sample group.

Today, the Gallup daily tracking poll -- the rolling average of voter interviews conducted, in this case, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (correction: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) -- shows the race at almost a dead heat. Obama had a statistically insignificant one-percentage-point lead over McCain, 45% to 44%.

A week ago, in the midst of his much-heralded overseas trip, Obama began a spurt in the tracking polls -- on Sunday, he reached his peak with a nine-point margin, 49% to 40%. But since then, his edge has steadily declined.

Writes Gallup editor Frank Newport:

"The story of the election through the summer months has been a close race that simply does not seem to want to change. Obama has generally been in the lead, and it is significant that McCain has never held even a 1-point lead among registered voters in Gallup Poll Daily tracking since Obama clinched the Democratic nomination in early June.

Still, the relative stability of the race, even in the aftermath of such a high-visibility event as Obama's foreign trip (coupled, of course, with the McCain campaign's vigorous efforts to defuse its impact) continues to suggest that it may be the conventions in late August and early September that will offer the next potential timeframe for significant and/or sustained change."

Perhaps, but the Ticket and others will be watching the track closely over the next couple of days to see if what may end up as the most-discussed ad of recent vintage -- the McCain camp's spot tying, improbably to many, Obama with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears -- has a clear effect on either candidate's standing.

-- Don Frederick

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