Republican John McCain is accusing Democrat Barack Obama of seeking a socialist redistribution of wealth as a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds the candidates running nearly dead-even less than two weeks before the presidential election.
The poll results were released and found Mr Obama at 44 % to 43 % for Mr McCain, a possible indication that conservative voters were drifting back to the Republican candidate.
The same poll three weeks ago found that Mr Obama had surged to a seven-point lead, lifted by Americans’ anxiety over the slumping US economy – the top issue gripping voters in the 2008 race for the White House.
With the contest still volatile, the new AP-GfK head-to-head result is a departure from some, but not all, recent national polls.
Mr Obama and Mr McCain were essentially tied among likely voters in the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll.
In other surveys focusing on likely voters, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Mr Obama up by 9%age points, while a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll had the margin at 11 points and a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Centre had Mr Obama leading by 14.
State-by-state polling shows Mr Obama within a few electors of the 270 need to win. The nationwide popular vote does not count for victory in the US system, that depends instead on the electoral college, with members apportioned according to state population.
Mr McCain has been pounding the Obama tax plan, which proposes a reversal of President George Bush’s tax cuts that mainly benefited the wealthy. The additional revenue, Mr Obama contends, would offset tax breaks he wants to give to the 95% of Americans who make less than $250,000 (€195,219) annually.
“Apparently, as my opponent sees it, there’s a strict limit to your earnings as well, and it’s for the politicians to decide. The proper amount of wealth is not what you can earn, but what government will let you keep,” Mr McCain told supporters in New Hampshire, a traditionally anti-tax state he hopes to woo to his side.
Mr McCain was joined by his running mate Sarah Palin at a rally later in the battleground state of Ohio, where the Alaska governor derided Mr Obama as “Barack the Wealth Spreader” and said: “You have to really listen to our opponent’s words, because he’s hiding his real agenda of redistributing your hard-earned money.”
Mr Obama was quick to remind that Mr McCain had voted against the Bush tax cuts before shifting to support during the campaign.
“Was John McCain a socialist back in 2000?” when he opposed President Bush’s proposals, Mr Obama asked at a news conference.
“It’s not a very plausible argument,” he said.