WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

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.

Tags: age, color-arousal, mccain, obama (all tags)

Comments

12 Comments

Re: WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

An interesting article and poll, thanks for pointing it out.

by prodigal 2008-06-22 04:27AM | 0 recs
I'll be damned, Manic Lawyer...

A diary which doesn't bash the Clintons! Kudos, and a rec for you!

by sricki 2008-06-22 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

I don't agree with your assumption that the undecideds will go to Mccain. Why do you think that?

by feliks 2008-06-22 04:40AM | 0 recs
Undecideds usu. go to white candidate.

It's basically color-aroused ideation on my part, based on what I believe about other people's color-aroused voting behavior.  People who are going to vote for a Black candidate go ahead and tell the pollsters so.  If they tell the pollster's they don't know, then I assume they either:

(a)  the DO know but don't want to say that they are going to vote against the Black candidate, or

(b) they really don't know and are on the fence, so when they get into the polls they'll do what they've always done: vote for the white candidate.

I don't think anyone should congratulate themselves that Obama's ahead in the polls right now, and we instead have to drive McCain from the race by exposing the fact that he thinks he's married to a "cunt."

Arnold Schwartznegger (sp?) was elected in spite of a whole lot of proof that showed an appalling lack of respect for women in the past.  But those women weren't his wife, and he didn't do it in front of five reporters.

Eventually, one of two things is going to happen:  

(a)  John McCain is going to be very publicly asked if he called his wife a "cunt", he's going to say that he didn't, and then reporters are going to come forth to say that he DID, just like the with Hillary's Bosnia fiasco, where she was proved a liar by reporters.

(b)  John McCain is going to be very publicly asked if he called his wife a "cunt", he's going to refuse to answer clearly, and then it will be up to Obama and his supporters to make the case that McCain untrustworthy and doesn't respect women, who will be 55-60% of the electorate.

The "cunt" issue has the potential to divide McCain from a lot of the religious voters, because many of them can't imagine saying the word "bitch" to their wives or in front of their children, much less "cunt".

Unfortunately, voters are evenly divided between sense and stupidity right now, with most of the salient facts about these candidates' positions already proven.  So, Obama is only going to win by showing that McCain is an unacceptable A-hole.  It's all going to turn on the "cunt" issue, in my opinion.

by Manic Lawyer 2008-06-22 10:18AM | 0 recs
I wonder about polls.

How effective are national polls in gauging the results of a 50-state campaign?

Obama's campaign, for example, will focus on a state-by-state effort to get out the vote.  I assume they have identified which states they intend to win.  Let's say in those states, the two candidates are polling dead even but the average turnout in those states is 35-50%.  If Obama can get a turnout of his supporters of 50-65% he wins.  In addition, if McCain is polling +5% and Obama can get a turnout of +15% he wins.

The way the Republicans won in the past was forcing hot-button issues onto the ballots in every state they planned to win to mobilize their base.  This election, eight years of Republicans' incompetence is our hot button issue.  Add boots on the ground in all 50 states to that and I say we win.

by GFORD 2008-06-22 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

I don't agree that the undecideds are with McBush.  I believe that the undecideds are undecided and could go either way.  Saying that these undecideds are racist and that is why they won't give their answer is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Most racist are proud to be racist and will shout it out to any and will give their answer proudly.  The undecideds could be for Obama, but are reluctant becasue of past prejudices might not be willing to give it voice yet.

I also, believe that race will not a deciding factor this year.  I do think age will play a big part with older voters not wanting to see someone as old as McBush leading our country. Too many risk.

by Spanky 2008-06-22 06:37AM | 0 recs
I hope color won't be deciding factor.

If it IS a determining factor for some voters, they might decide that they've had enough of white men who don't know what the hell they're doing and who want to take the country into another war, while destroying the economy and leaving Americans to fend on their own in terms of health care.

I know my opinion is a negative one, but if I were Obama I would do exactly what he did in the primaries:  make good arguments to everyone, target the youth vote that isn't going to vote on the basis of color, and turn out the Black vote that ALWAYS votes against Republicans, regardless of the color of the Republican and the color of the Democrat.

Whites always vote 60/40 for Republicans in presidential elections.  Why is that?  Because 60% of whites really like Republican policies, or because some of them hate Black people and they want to vote against the Party that always gets Black people's votes?

Whites always give the majority of their votes to the Republican Party in presidential electoins, and Democrats only win when the get the Black vote out and win over the Latinos to a significant.  The fact that ANY whites could be considering voting for John McCain shows people from other countries what a mess the United States is.

If Obama had to get half of the white vote, he could wrap up his tent and go home, because 55-60% of American whites ALWAYS vote for the Republican A-hole.  I wish I could say it in a nicer way, but facts are facts.

by Manic Lawyer 2008-06-22 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

It's interesting, my 80-year-old grandmother believes that McCain is too old to be president.  McCain's age issue isn't just confined to people of younger generations.

by rfahey22 2008-06-22 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: WaPost Polls McCain, Obama

I think there are a lot of older people who have concerns about his age. My mom is 65. We were talking politics and age the other day. She is a republican and thinks McCain is too old to be an effective president. She says she knows she is not as sharp as she once was, nor does she have the same degree of stamina. She is voting for Obama, in large part, for that reason.

by jadegirl 2008-06-22 06:58AM | 0 recs
Reagan got elected.

I knew Reagan's head bobbing was a neurological problem from the first time I saw him speak, but Americans elected him anyway, even though he must have had early state Alzheimers disease during much of his presidency.

Obama's too nice to say "vote against McCain because he's an old b**stard," but McCain is going to trot out Willie Horton right before the November election.  Age and color might be a wash, and then Obama will have to give voters ANOTHER reason to vote for him (of which there are many, obviously).

Americans would elect the skeleton of John Wayne if being alive weren't a requirement for the presidency.  

If Americans decide to elect the handsome bright young guy, like they did when they elected Bill Clinton and even Jimmy Carter, then Obama will win.  Question is, will Americans be able to see perceive that Obama is handsome, bright and young even though his skin is brown.

Just keep saying this mantra:  Governor Deval Patrick!  Massachusetts 5% Black!

by Manic Lawyer 2008-06-22 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

I think the timing of the candidacy of an AA and of a woman are of some importance in this debate.

I think that if GWB had not made the GOP such a miserable failure in the minds of most Americans, there would be no chance in heck for either an AA or a female candidate to reach the office of the POTUS.  I don't think that the collective conscience of the American public has moved beyond race and gender issues.  I think they have, however , become so tired of being constantly screwed by the GOP that they are willing to give their old biases a day off for the GE.

Folks aren't 'electing a person of color', they are eleting someone who's not the usual GOP.

by emsprater 2008-06-22 07:50AM | 0 recs
I think you're right.

But, voters typically bounce from party to party, electing whatever party is NOT in office when times are bad, right?  Would it be any less logical to elect whatever color is NOT in office when times are bad?

As you've pointed out, the condition of the country is NOT an advertisement for the benefits of the 43-term white male monopoly of the presidency.

by Manic Lawyer 2008-06-22 10:43AM | 0 recs

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