NEW YORK - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama leads Republican rival John McCain by 14 percentage points, with three weeks to go until the US election, according to a latest CBS News/New York Times poll. Obama had 53 per cent support to McCain's 39pc in the national opinion poll, CBS News said. Obama's lead was 3 points higher than in the previous poll on Oct 6. In the midst of a financial crisis and with the election looming on Nov 4, the stakes are high for the third and final debate between Obama and McCain on Wednesday at 9 pm EDT (0100 GMT Thursday) in Hempstead, New York. "Among independents who are likely voters - a group that has swung back and forth between McCain and Obama over the course of the campaign - the Democratic ticket now leads by 18 points. McCain led among independents last week," CBS said. It said Obama was widely seen as running the more positive campaign, with 61pc saying McCain was spending more time attacking Obama than explaining what he would do as president. Just 27pc said the same thing about Obama. McCain's favourable rating dropped 4 points to 36pc and was now lower than his 41pc unfavourable rating, CBS said. Obama was seen favourably by half of registered voters and unfavourably by 32pc. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll was conducted by telephone among 1,070 adults nationwide from Friday to Monday. The margin of error was 3 percentage points. McCain has sought to regain his footing on economic issues over the past three weeks after facing criticism for saying the fundamentals of the US economy were strong despite signs of crisis on Wall Street. During that time, Obama has moved from a tie with McCain in national polls to a lead. In more bad news for the McCain campaign, a Quinnipiac University/Wall Street Journal/Washingtonpost.com poll on Tuesday gave Obama sizable leads in four battleground states. McCain and Obama unveiled new plans this week to head off a recession in the United States as officials around the world try to ward off economic damage from the financial crisis. AFP adds: McCain, needing a dramatic turnaround to his waning White House hopes, vowed to unmask his rival Barack Obama as a radical sympathizer at their third and final debate in New York later Wednesday. On its front page, the New York Daily News tabloid featured a caricature of a gun-toting McCain emerging from a Wild West bar under the headline "Last Chance Saloon." McCain, who was down a whopping 14 points in one new poll as the United States weathers its worst financial crisis in decades, talked tough heading into the last presidential debate before the November 4 vote. Senior McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace told NBC television early Wednesday: "We've never been interested in negative attacks for the purpose of negative attacks. But the truth has to stand on its own tonight." However, as millions of voters fret about possibly losing their jobs and health care, the perils of a negative strategy from McCain are clear as Obama, 47, builds up a commanding lead in several polls.