Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama opens the general election campaign with a narrow lead over Republican John McCain but the two score near even among independent voters, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, Obama leads McCain by 48 percent to 42 percent among all adults, while McCain has picked up support from independents who could be key to deciding the November election.

Independents see McCain, an Arizona senator, as more credible on fighting terrorism and are split evenly on who is the stronger leader and better on the Iraq war, the Post reported.

McCain has a 14-point lead over Obama, an Illinois senator, on the issue of dealing with terrorism and a narrow edge on who is best equipped to handle international affairs, the poll found.

On Iraq, 47 percent of all respondents said they trust McCain more and 46 percent said they have faith in Obama.

Independents were 45 percent for McCain to 43 percent for Obama on the question of Iraq, according to the poll.

Experience appears to be Obama’s clearest weakness, the newspaper said. The poll found that just 50 percent of Americans said Obama has the necessary experience to be president, almost unchanged since early March.

Fifty-six percent said McCain was a safe choice, while 52 percent said that of Obama.

The two candidates were evenly matched on the question of who is the stronger leader, with 46 percent of respondents rating each as top.

McCain was in a far weaker position on domestic issues with Obama leading by 16 points on the economy, which continues to top the list of the campaign’s most important issues, the Post reported.

The poll of 1,125 adults was conducted by telephone on June 12-15 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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