Presumptive Democratic candidate for the US presidential election Barack Obama has established a small early lead over his rival Republican John McCain, a new poll shows.
The poll, conducted for Wall Street Journal and NBC, shows that Obama is leading McCain by 47 per cent to 41 per cent. But still the lead is significantly smaller than the Democratic Party's 16-point advantage, 51 per cent to 35 per cent, when voters are asked, without candidates' names, which party they want to win the White House.
Record unpopularity of President George Bush and the Republican Party, combined with economic worries among voters and a broad desire for change, would normally make this "the single best year for an Obama-type candidacy, and the single worst year for a McCain-type candidacy," says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with Republican Neil Newhouse.
But Obama continues to do poorly among white male voters, according to the poll. More ominous is his weakness among white suburban women, who generally are open to Democratic candidates and whose votes could be decisive.
While Obama has a slight lead among white women generally, a plurality of suburbanites prefers McCain.
Some good news for the likely Democratic nominee: Despite suggestions during the nomination contest that many Hispanics and Hillary Clinton supporters wouldn't support him, the poll shows both groups overwhelmingly do.
The poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted from Friday through Monday, a "propitious time" for Obama, Hart noted, as Clinton had conceded and endorsed her rival on Saturday.