Obama's lead down to 8 points in Ill.

May 18, 2004 at 3:57 PM

WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- Illinois Democrat Barack Obama's lead over the GOP's Jack Ryan in the U.S. Senate race has narrowed to 8 points, a poll published Tuesday shows.

The survey of 500 likely Illinois voters statewide conducted for the Daily Southtown newspaper shows that Obama, the Democrat's general election nominee, leads Ryan 48 percent to 40 percent. Previous polls and Obama's internal polls suggested a wider gap, the paper said.

"Now that it's just the two of them and people are paying more attention and getting more information about them, they are seeing that Jack's vision for Illinois is more mainstream," Ryan spokesman Kelli Phiel said while Obama's campaign said the shrinking gap only indicates the race will be competitive.

The survey, conducted Wednesday night by the independent Rasmussen Reports, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

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