Obama lead firm at 10 points nationally

Democrat Barack Obama holds a 10-point lead over Republican rival John McCain in the U.S. presidential race, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Friday.

Obama leads McCain by 51 percent to 41 percent among likely U.S. voters in the three-day tracking poll, which has a margin of error of 2.9 points. Obama had a 12-point lead on Thursday.

The numbers marked the end of a 4-day slide for McCain, who has seen Obama’s lead widen in national surveys as well as polls in many of the battleground states that will decide the November 4 election.

But pollster John Zogby said the strength of Obama’s support — which has grown amid increasingly dismal economic news — remained impressive.

"McCain stopped the bleeding a little bit but he still has a long way to go," he said.

Obama, 47, continues to win support from women and independent voters, two groups expected to play pivotal roles in this year’s election.

Among independents, the Illinois senator is ahead by 56 percent to 30 percent, while women back Obama by a 20-point margin, 58 percent to 38 percent.

Obama also leads among Catholic voters by 22 points, and among Protestants who are not evangelical by 48 percent to 44 percent. Evangelical or "born-again" voters back McCain by 60 percent to 34 percent for Obama.

McCain, 72, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam War prisoner, has retained a 6-point lead among white voters and moved back into a tie with Obama for the male vote at 45 percent apiece.

Obama, who would be the first black president, takes 94 percent of the black vote and 70 percent of the Hispanic vote.

More surprisingly, he continues to win 20 percent of the conservative vote — a sign of McCain’s weakness in that traditional bastion of Republican support. Conversely, McCain, an Arizona senator, wins only 5 percent of support among liberals.

"This is not simply a gender gap. This is about the economy, and it is about the ‘softer’ issues like health and education," Zogby said. "And part of it could simply be Obama’s air of confidence."

Independent Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr held relatively steady at 2 percent and 1 percent respectively. Three percent of voters said they remained undecided, unchanged from Thursday.

The rolling tracking poll surveyed 1,203 likely voters in the presidential election. In a tracking poll, the most recent day’s results are added, while the oldest day’s results are dropped to monitor changing momentum.

The U.S. president is determined by who wins the Electoral College, which has 538 members apportioned by population in each state and the District of Columbia. Electoral votes are allotted on a winner-take-all basis in all but two states, which divide them by congressional district.