WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama’s lead over Republican rival John McCain dipped slightly to 5 points with three days left in the race for the White House, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Saturday.
Obama leads McCain by 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters in the three-day national tracking poll, down from a 7-point advantage on Friday. The telephone poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
McCain, who made solid gains in Friday’s single day of polling, sliced Obama’s lead among independents from 15 points to 6 points and among women from 9 points to 4 points.
“There is no doubt that McCain made some gains,” said pollster John Zogby. “It is enough to raise the question, is McCain making a move?”
Obama’s support dropped below the 50 percent mark after two consecutive days at that level. McCain’s support has never moved above the 45 percent mark in the more than three weeks the tracking poll has been taken.
Obama has led McCain in every national opinion poll since late September, and McCain also trails in many of the key battleground states including Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
But McCain and his campaign aides say he is clawing back, and McCain enlisted the help of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the battleground state of Ohio on Friday.
“I know a winning campaign when I see one,” McCain said. “We’re a couple of points back. Arnold said it best. The Mac is back.”
The tracking poll showed Obama still holds an 8-point edge among Catholics and a 6-point lead among men. The Illinois senator led among all age groups except those voters between the ages of 30 and 49.
McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, trails by 5 points among voters with a member of the military in their family.
The Arizona senator was also winning over only 26 percent of Hispanics, a fast-growing group that gave President George W. Bush more than 40 percent of their vote in 2004.
Obama also does a better job of bridging the ideological divide. He is attracting 19 percent of self-described conservatives, the poll found, while McCain gains only 6 percent of liberals.
Independent Ralph Nader received 2 percent in the national survey, and Libertarian Bob Barr was at 1 percent. About 2 percent of voters remain undecided.
The rolling tracking poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, surveyed 1,201 likely voters in the presidential election. In a tracking poll, the most recent day’s results are added, while the oldest day’s results are dropped to monitor changing momentum.
The U.S. presidency is determined by which candidate wins the Electoral College, which has 538 members apportioned by population in each state and the District of Columbia. Electoral votes are allotted on a winner-take-all basis in all but two states, which divide them by congressional district.