Obama opens up 9-point poll lead


US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has opened a 9-point lead over Republican John McCain in the latest opinion poll amid turmoil in the financial system and growing pessimism about the economy.

According to a Washington Post-ABC News national opinion poll released today, Mr Obama now leads Mr McCain by 52 per cent to 43 per cent. Two weeks ago the race was essentially even, with John McCain at 49 per cent and Barack Obama at 47 per cent, the Post reported.

The financial crisis brought on the collapse of the credit market has become the No. 1 issue leading up to the Nov. 4 presidential election.

Fifty-two per cent of those polled said they believe the economy has moved into a serious long-term decline.

Eighty per cent said they are concerned about the overall direction of the economy, nearly three-quarters worry about the shocks to the stock market, and six in 10 are apprehensive about their own family finances, the newspaper said.

Half of the respondents called the economy and jobs the single most important issue that will determine their vote, up from 37 percent two weeks ago.

The poll found that more voters trust Mr Obama to deal with the economy, and he has a big edge as the candidate who is more in tune with the economic problems Americans now face, the Post said.

The Illinois senator also has a double-digit advantage on handling the current problems on Wall Street, and as a result, there has been a rise in his overall support, the report said.

Neither Mr Obama nor Mr McCain, an Arizona senator, has said he would oppose the Bush administration's financial industry bailout plan being negotiated with Congress, although both have been critical of it.

But the $700 billion price tag would almost certainly restrict the agenda and limit the number of costly programs advocated by whoever becomes the next president.

The survey of 1,082 people, including 916 registered voters, was conducted Friday through Monday. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus three percentage points and four points for the sample of 780 likely voters.