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Published: Thursday, 6/19/2008

Obama is leading McCain in Ohio

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

A new poll released yesterday shows Democrat Barack Obama overcoming his defeat in the Ohio Democratic primary three months ago to now lead Ohio in a head-to-head race against Republican John McCain.

The Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Obama had a 48 percent to 42 percent lead among likely Ohio voters over Mr. McCain. The poll showed Mr. McCain's stance on the Iraq war as his only current strong point with Ohio respondents.

The Connecticut university also released polls from Pennsylvania and Florida that show Mr. Obama in the lead in those states.

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain's campaign responded to Mr. Obama's plan, aired Tuesday in Michigan, to give $4,000 annual tuition grants to college students and to Mr. Obama's charge that Mr. McCain is "out of touch" on the issue of college tuition.

Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Mr. McCain, said Mr. Obama's college tuition plan depends on raising taxes on 21 million small businesses, which provide the jobs that pay college tuition bills.

Mr. Bounds said Mr. McCain has "a proud record" of co-authoring bills to expand educational opportunities and promote national service.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama met with students from a community college in Wayne County, Michigan, to promote his tax credit plan that he said would fully fund a community college education and pay most of the cost of many four-year colleges. Students would have to commit to 100 hours of community or public service.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said Mr. Obama leads with strong support from women, blacks, and younger voters.

In Ohio's March 4 Democratic presidential primary, Mr. Obama lost to Hillary Clinton by 53 percent to 45 percent.

"Finally getting Senator Hillary Clinton out of the race has been a big boost for Senator Barack Obama," Mr. Brown said. "He now leads in all three of the major swing states, although his margins in Florida and Ohio are small."

Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the McCain campaign in Ohio, downplayed the results.

"We fully expected Barack Obama to receive a bump in the polls. In fact, we expected it to be more significant," Mr. Lindsay said.

The economy was cited by 50 percent to 58 percent of voters as the most important issue.

Respondents were nearly evenly split between Mr. Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq under a fixed timetable and Mr. McCain's plan to keep troops there until the situation stabilizes and then withdraw without a set schedule.

In Ohio, 53 percent favored staying in Iraq until the situation stabilizes with no fixed date for full withdrawal, while 42 percent wanted to begin an immediate withdrawal with a goal of having all troops out of Iraq within 18 months, the poll found.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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