Obama trip leaves confidence little changed: poll

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) steps off his campaign plane as he arrives in Paris, July 25, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama’s highly publicized foreign trip does not appear to have increased confidence in his ability to be president and may have helped energize supporters of Republican John McCain, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

A USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,007 adults, conducted Friday through Sunday, showed a surge in likely Republican voters compared to a month ago and a country evenly divided about whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq under a timetable.

The data published in USA Today’s Tuesday editions showed Obama leading McCain 47 percent to 44 percent among registered voters, down from a 6-percentage point lead last month. Meanwhile, McCain led 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters, reversing a 5-point Obama lead in group.

The margin of error was 4 percentage points for both registered and likely voters.

USA Today said majorities of voters told pollsters that Obama would do a better job than McCain in dealing with foreign leaders and handling relations with other countries.

But 41 percent said they did not think he could handle the job of commander-in-chief -- about the same as the 40 percent who said the same thing last month, before Obama’s 10-day trip to Europe and the Middle East that ended over the weekend.

Obama’s trip received good reviews from 35 percent in the poll, while about one-quarter viewed it negatively and 38 percent said they did not know enough to express an opinion.

Six in 10 Republicans said news media coverage of Obama’s trip was “unfairly positive.”

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Bill Trott