WASHINGTON — Is John McCain starting to stage a comeback? Perhaps, according to new poll numbers from Gallup, the respected polling organization.
McCain is now within two percentage points of Barack Obama in one Gallup poll, trailing by just 49-47 percent.
He trails by wider margins in other Gallup polls. But even there, he gained in recent days leading up to Wednesday night's third and final presidential debate.
Gallup now is breaking its polls into three categories as the campaign enters its final weeks: one of registered voters, one of likely voters that expects higher turnout from young people and others, and one of likely voters based on traditional turnout.
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In its daily polling of registered voters, Gallup on Thursday found Obama leading by 49-43 percent. It was the first time Obama's slipped below the 50 percent threshold in a dozen days, and his six-point lead was the narrowest in more than two weeks.
Gallup's survey of likely voters including expected higher turnouts from young people and minorities showed Obama leading by 51-45 percent. That was a one-point drop for Obama and a one-point increase for McCain.
That expanded pool covers about two thirds of the voting population, Gallup noted, a "significantly higher proportion than has turned out in any recent election."
Finally, in the smaller and more traditional pool of likely voters, Gallup found Obama leading McCain by 49-47 percent. Obama had led by as much as 51-44 just four days before.
That poll is based on forecasts of a slightly higher turnout than usual, but not as high as the previous forecast.
"This has generally shown a closer contest, reflecting the fact that Republicans have been typically more likely to vote than Democrats in previous elections," said Gallup editor Frank Newport.