New poll shows McCain - Obama in virtual tie

A new LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows John McCain has overcome a 12 point deficit to pull into a virtual dead heat with Barack Obama.

The poll, released Tuesday, shows Obama leading McCain by a 45 - 43 percent margin which falls into the three percent margin of error.

What's behind the move? The director of the poll credits negative attacks launched by the Republican's campaign.

The McCain team rolled out a number of ads in the past month displaying Obama as a lightweight, inexperienced celebrity-type who, according to the tagline, "isn't ready to lead."

Obama's favorable rating dropped 11 points during the period falling from 59 percent to 48 percent while McCain's numbers remained constant.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, last week told the Christian Science Monitor that the McCain ads, which label Obama a celebrity, were successful because of the way it connected criticism to a perceived flaw.

"Personal criticism of your opponent is almost always going to cause a backlash unless you can find a way to link it to a policy matter," Schnur said. "And these celebrity ads, particularly the follow up ones, have done an outstanding job of linking criticisms personally to Obama’s policy credentials."

"If they would have continued to run ads with Paris and Britney, it would have trivialized the point they were trying to make," he continued. "But they used the two girls to grab people’s attention and then shifted in the next ads to a more direct link between Obama’s own celebrity and his lack of policy chops."

Those polled said they would have more confidence in John McCain during a foreign affairs crisis. Seventy-seven percent feel McCain would "deal wisely" with the situation compared to 63 percent for Barack Obama. A full one-third of particpants have concerns about Obama's patriotism while nine percent have questions about McCain's.

It's not all bad news for Obama, however. Independents still favor Obama by a sizable margin - 47 percent to 36 percent.

And with the Democratic convention only days away, Obama could stand to receive a post-convention shot in the arm.

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