(CNN) – Two and seven: With two days left until election day, a new national poll suggests that Barack Obama holds a seven-point lead over John McCain in the race for the White House.
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Sunday morning, 53 percent of likely voters say they are backing Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, for president, while 46 percent support McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona.
Over the last month, Obama's lead has remained quite steady, ranging from five to nine points in the CNN Poll of Polls, which is an average of the national surveys.
But CNN Polling Director Keating Holland cautions against assuming the election is over.
"Keep in mind that this is not a prediction of the final outcome," Holland said. "That's not an easy task with two full days of campaigning to go in a country in which roughly one in ten voters tend to make up their minds in the last few days."
There are three major third-party candidates that are on the ballot in some states across the nation.
They are Independent Ralph Nader, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney.
When they are factored into the poll, Obama's lead increases by one percentage point, to eight points - 51 percent to 43 percent, with Nader, Barr and McKinney combining for four points.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Thursday through Saturday, with 1,017 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The surveys' sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Obama also holds a commanding lead in CNN's Electoral Map.
CNN estimates that if the election were held today, Obama would win states worth 291 electoral votes - more than enough to capture the White House.
McCain would take states worth 157 electoral votes, while states worth a combined total of 90 electoral votes would still be up for grabs. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.
CNN's new poll suggests that a majority of Americans have a favorable view of both presidential candidates, with 61 percent giving a thumbs up for Obama and 56 percent for McCain.
But the same is not true of their running mates, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden and Republican Gov. Sarah Palin.
"Six in ten have a favorable view of Joe Biden, but the public is split right down the middle on Sarah Palin. And Palin's unfavorables have been growing - eight points higher than early October and more than twice as high as they were when she was first introduced to the public in late August,"
Sixty-four percent of those polled say life will be better for most Americans four years from now if Obama is elected, with 53 percent saying life would be better if McCain wins the White House.
"Americans... think an Obama presidency would be better for themselves and their families - six in ten say they are likely to be personally better off in 2012 if Obama is elected; just over half feel that way about a McCain victory," Holland said, adding: "An Obama presidency would face some great
expectations. Most Americans think it's likely that Obama will improve the economy, end the war in Iraq, increase respect for the U.S. in other countries, and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil if elected."
That difference in public perception on Iraq is striking. Sixty-seven percent say it's likely the U.S will not be at war in Iraq in four years if Obama is elected, with just 47 percent saying the war will be over if McCain wins.
"This is the issue on which people see the clearest difference between the two presidential candidates," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
McCain's insistence that Obama will raise taxes appears not to be convincing voters: 47 percent of Americans in our poll say their taxes would be lower four years from now under Obama, with just 36 percent saying that McCain would lower their taxes if he is elected.
McCain has one advantage in the poll : 62 percent say it's likely that the country will be safe from terrorism in 2012 with McCain in the White House; the public is evenly divided over whether the U.S. would be safe from terrorism under an Obama administration.
So how does this election compare to the last presidential election?
Four years ago, CNN's last poll before the election suggested George W. Bush was two points ahead of Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee. President Bush ended up winning the popular vote by three points.