The Reuters/Zogby Index, which measures the mood of the country, climbed to 91.9 from 88.7 in July as six of the 10 measures of public opinion used in the index rose.

Bush’s approval rating climbed to 29 percent, up four percentage points from June, and the number of Americans who believe the country is on the right track rose to 23 percent from 18 percent — up from June’s all-time Zogby poll low of 16 percent.

The approval rating for Congress, however, dipped to 9 percent from last month’s all-time low of 11 percent as the legislative body headed off to an August vacation without progress on a host of issues including energy prices.

McCain now has a 9-point edge, 49 percent to 40 percent, over Obama on the critical question of who would be the best manager of the economy — an issue nearly half of voters said was their top concern in the November 4 presidential election.

Obama’s support among Democrats fell 9 percentage points this month to 74 percent, while McCain has the backing of 81 percent of Republicans. Support for Obama, an Illinois senator, fell 12 percentage points among liberals, with 10 percent of liberals still undecided compared to 9 percent of conservatives.

The dip in support for Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, cut across demographic and ideological lines. He slipped among Catholics, born-again Christians, women, independents and younger voters. He retained the support of more than 90 percent of black voters.

Obama’s support among voters between the ages of 18 and 29, which had been one of his strengths, slipped 12 percentage points to 52 percent. McCain, who will turn 72 next week, was winning 40 percent of younger voters.

It made little difference when independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr, who are both trying to add their names to state ballots.

McCain still held a 5-point edge over Obama, 44 percent to 39 percent, when all four names were included. Barr earned 3 percent and Nader 2 percent.

Most national polls have given Obama a narrow lead over McCain throughout the summer. In the Reuters/Zogby poll, Obama had a 5-point lead in June, shortly after he clinched the Democratic nomination, and an 8-point lead on McCain in May.

The telephone poll of 1,089 likely voters had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Reuters
8/20/8