WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal
by Manic Lawyer, Sun Jun 22, 2008 at 04:17:08 AM EDT
John Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta have a thought provoking article in today's Washington Post on the basis of a study of relations between color-groups and persons in the United States, with particular respect to questions about Senators Barack Obama and John McCain's candidacies:
As Sen. Barack Obama opens his campaign as the first African American on a major party presidential ticket, nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Lingering racial bias affects the public's assessments of the Democrat from Illinois, but offsetting advantages and Sen. John McCain's age could be bigger factors in determining the next occupant of the White House.
( . . . )
there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be "entirely comfortable" with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November. WaPost
It's worth reading the whole poll, since the answers respondents gave are broken out in a very detailed way. For example, I think the race between Obama and McCain is, at best, tied at this point, because of the following:
The poll asks the question,
3. If the 2008 presidential election were being held today and the candidates were (Barack Obama, the Democrat) and (John McCain, the Republican), for whom would you vote?
48% choose Obama and 42% choose McCain, with four percent undecided. It seems likely that most of the undecided vote would go to McCain, making the race 48%-46%, because of historical experiennce and because, in another part of the poll, McCain has a four-point edge over Obama in a questions asking who would be the safer or riskier candidate for who to vote. So, I think the race is a dead heat at best, and could well go to McCain unless Obama and his supporters can demonstrate that McCain is simply unacceptable for some reason, for example, that McCain is a hot-headed lunatic who called his wife a cunt in front of five reporters, and that makes him unacceptable as a candidate, much less as a president.
Obama voters are far more enthusiastic about Obama than McCain's voters are about McCain, by a margin of 55% to 42%, so the election probably will turn for Obama, if at all, upon his and his supporters' ability to get enthusiastic voters to the polls on election day, while avoiding issues that would make McCain's supporters any more enthusiastic than they are now. Obama clearly understands the importance of his turnout because the New York Times reports his campaign is now implementing a well-funded and sophisticated 50-state push to get his voters to the polls on election day.
On the question of whether McCain's doddering agedness is as important as the color of Obama's skin, 60% say age is not important and and 77% say skin color is not important, but since many of the latter group are probably lying, I would say that this is, at best, a wash. Which means we have to give advantage to McCain, because Americans would vote for John Wayne in a casket if he could put his name on the ballot. McCain just as to convince white Americans, as Ronald Reagan did, that McCain is John Wayne. So far, he doesn't even seem to perceive the need to do so.