21 Oct 2008

Poll gives Obama 8-point lead

7:32 pm on 21 October 2008

Democrat Barack Obama has opened an eight-point lead over Republican John McCain two weeks before the United States presidential election, according to a poll released on Monday.

Mr Obama leads Senator McCain 50% to 42% among likely US voters in the latest three-day tracking poll conducted by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby.

That is up two percentage points from the previous poll.

The Illinois senator's advantage with independent voters grew from 11 to 15 points, and his edge with women voters grew from eight to 13 points.

His support among Republicans grew by three points to 12% a day after he received the endorsement of Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mr Obama will leave the campaign trail to go to Hawaii this week to visit the ailing grandmother who helped raise him, an aide said on Monday.

"Recently his grandmother has become ill and in the last few weeks her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious," Robert Gibbs said.

Mr Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who will be 86 on Sunday, helped raise him along with his mother, Ann Dunham, and his grandfather, Stanley Dunham.

Mr Gibbs would not discuss the nature of her illness and the senator would be back campaigning on Saturday.

Mr Obama often makes references to his grandmother on the campaign trail, mentioning that she worked in a bomber assembly plant during World War II.

Later, she worked as a secretary in a bank and was eventually promoted to vice-president. She helped put Mr Obama through private school in Hawaii.