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Obama Takes Biggest Lead Yet

Sen. Barack Obama just dashed past his Republican opponent in today’s Washington Post/ABC poll, grabbing what The Post calls his “first clear lead” of the entire general election.

The national poll, which does not reflect the Electoral College or prioritize the swing states that actually decide the election, shows Obama besting Sen. John McCain by 52 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three points. (Full data.)

Economic concerns are not only boosting Obama — voters’ views of his economic leadership have improved during the past few weeks:

Independents, key swing voters, now break for Obama, 53 percent to 39 percent, reversing a small lead for McCain after the Republican convention. McCain is the choice of 86 percent of Republicans, while about as many Democrats, 88 percent, back Obama. In the new poll, voters once again gave Obama higher marks than McCain when it comes to dealing with the economy, 53 percent to 39 percent. Two weeks ago, Obama’s edge on the question was a narrow five points, his lowest of the campaign. Among independents, Obama’s advantage on the economy — now 21 points — is greater than at any point in the campaign.

National polls still offer only a rough snapshot of the electorate. Yet this one is striking because it suggests a sharp and unusual turn in the national mood — a kind that never occurred during the last presidential election.

Then, both candidates were locked in such a tight race that neither broke 50 percent in any Post/ABC poll prior to Election Day. Now, as the country faces a major economic crisis and voters look toward the first presidential debate, Obama appears to have consolidated majority support heading into the most crucial phase of the campaign.

In addition, voters are now indicating that they think the race is more important: a record-high 91 percent say they are following it closely, up from 73 percent in July.

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