Three caveats off the bat: (1) Whereas WaPo has Obama up 10 among likelies, other polls like Rasmussen show the race tightening; (2) Tapper’s hearing from people inside Team Barry (perhaps trying to lower expectations) that Obama’s doing worse and McCain’s doing better than recent polls indicate and that it should be within three or so on election day; and (3) with the Dow up big today and further government action coming to put out the financial fire, the calmer things get economically, the better Maverick’s chances are.

Even so, we’re all wondering how well the Ayers attacks are working and this is the best measure I’ve seen so far. It’s true that the sample’s skewed more heavily towards the Dems than usual — 39 D, 30 R — but for perspective, note that the June 15 numbers were based on a sample of 38 D and just 26 R. The good news, I guess, is that Obama’s not any “safer” now than he was on September 29, but that’s a cold comfort for the Ayers strategy.

Either McCain’s not pushing it hard enough or it’s backfiring. The trend in favorables:

A separate question found that 68 percent think Obama’s addressing the issues versus 26 percent who think he’s attacking his opponent; for Maverick, the numbers are 26 percent and 59 percent (up 11 points since August), respectively. The debates aren’t helping either, with opinions of The One having improved 32 percent afterwards versus declined by just eight percent while for McCain it’s almost the opposite: 12 percent improvement versus 26 percent decline.

Here’s Kristol on Fox News Sunday anticipating this morning’s column by ranting about the state of Maverick’s strategy. Exit question: What’s McCain’s way out? He’s not going to push anything new on the economy, which 53 percent rate as their number one issue. Among that 53 percent, The One is favored — 62/33. Oof.

Update: The new Gallup’s just out. After showing the lead shrinking yesterday to seven points, it’s back to 10. Cue the warnings about weekend polls of conservative voters who are busy at church.