Barack Obama has a slight lead over John McCain in Mason-Dixon Research & Associates latest Florida poll, conducted for the Today show. That means the race is basically dead-even, considering the error margin of 4 percent.
The numbers favor McCain in another poll, by Rasmussen Reports for FOX, showing McCain leading 51-46 over Obama. That lead, too, is within the poll's error margin. Overall, according to RealClearPolitics poll average, McCain leads Obama 48 46.
The rest if from Mason-Dixon: voters prefer Obama by a slight margin to handle the economy (49-44) and to reform government (48-44). But McCain trounces Obama on the question of who's best to handle national security: 57-39. Military voters favor McCain 57-39, those who haven't served prefer Obama 49-42.
Also keeping McCain strong: white support (he edges Obama 50-42) and support among Hispanics (49-43), a crucial swing-voting demographic.
Obama has a decisive lead among black voters (88-5) and barely leads among women voters, 49-41. Past election exit polls show that the Republican who captures 45 percent or more of the woman vote generally wins the state.
The biggest swing in the poll: name-recognition for Republican vp pick Sarah Palin. About 75 percent of voters didn't recognize her name in the last Mason-Dixon poll in August. Now, only 2 percent don't recognize her. About 45 percent of voters view her favorably and 31 percent unfavorably. That compares to Joe Biden's fav/unfav of 39-21.
Palin has also had a bigger effect on her ticket than Biden has on his. About 60 percent of voters say Biden's pick had no effect on their vote, compared to 37 percent for Palin. And 36 percent say they're more likely to vote for McCain because of Palin, while 23 percent say it made them less likely. Biden's more likely/less likely numbers: 21-15