October 24th, 2008
04:31 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Age may play bigger role than race on Election Day

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A woman in Paris looks at a giant photo of the U.S. presidential candidates.(Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national survey suggests that race won't be a major factor in the outcome of the presidential election.

Seven out of ten Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Survey released Friday say that the race of the candidates will not be a factor in their vote for president this year. That 70 percent figure is up 9 points from July, when the same question was asked. Only 5 percent of those polled say race will be the single most important factor in their choice for president, with 11 percent saying it's one of several important factors, and 13 percent indicating race will be a minor factor in their vote.

Barack Obama, if elected, would be the first black American to win the White House.

So how will race affect the results on election day?

"First, don't assume that everyone who says that race is factor in their votes are voting against Obama,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

He adds that some voters are choosing Obama because of his race - and that many of those who say that race will influence their votes are Republicans who were highly unlikely to vote for any Democrat this year.

"By one complicated measure, the number of votes Obama may lose due to his race is roughly equal to the number who will vote for him because he is black. And both those numbers appear to be small, possibly just one percentage point in each direction," says Holland.

One question that often comes up when discussing polling regarding race is whether those being polled are telling the truth. Holland says that the survey results should be taken with a grain of salt: “ race is a complicated topic and polls may not reveal each respondent's true feelings on this hot-button issue,” says Holland.

Nonetheless, the poll suggests that race may largely be an influence on Americans who aren't typical Democratic voters, and that race works both for and against Obama in roughly equal proportions.

What about the age question? If elected, 72-year-old John McCain would be the oldest person to be inaugurated as president.

Roughly half of those polled say the age of the candidates will affect their vote, a number essentially unchanged since July. Three percent said age would be the most important factor in determining their presidential pick, with 19 percent saying it would be one of several important factors, and 25 percent saying it would be a minor factor.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 17-19, with 1,058 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. Louis in Los Angeles

    Normally age wouldn't bother me.

    Caribou Barbie for Beauty Queen. Not Vice President!

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. cf

    In my mind, there is only one real consideration: McCains choice of VP. Either man would make a fine president. No one seems to care that there is a very good chance McCain won't make it through his term alive. It is not just his age, but history of a particularly bad actor as far as cancers go, melanoma. If he is incapacitated or dies, this country would be left with ascension of a vice president who has no business being on the ticket. She has no real experience politically or knowledge of government function. In this day and age, gaining experience on the job would entail a far too steep learning curve. This leaves Obama; he, too is inexperienced. But to some extent he has been vetted on the campaign trail and hopefully will surround himself with advisors with good judgement.

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. MSU Dem

    Nightingale-

    Why bother to say you're still on the fence on this election? I've seen you post comments on multiple stories on the ticker, and they are always pro-McCain. Always. You're not fooling anyone, so stop with the pretend-undecided crap.

    I hope you're paid well for your efforts.

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Charlie Bradley

    Secret plans for ending the war?? Hello Richard Nixon are you waking from your dirt nap?

    I agree, McCain is about 8 years too late to be revealing his plans to end the war.

    McCain and his running mate are VERY delusional.

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Ya I Guess

    Wow where do you get that stuff to smoke?

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Independent for Obama

    UMM to nightingale sings. McCain has many plans, as most people who are erratic do. He can't seem to pick one and focus on that one.

    And are your reliable sources, the voices in your head. Please!!!

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. tulsa

    Nightengale,
    We've heard McCain's ideas. Anything he has to offer he would have already put on the table.
    All he has left is fear, intimidation and hate.
    If you are really on the fence, then look deeply into your soul and ask yourself if this country can take another 4 years of what the Republican party has become.
    Be honest and you, like so many Republicans before you will choose hope over fear, peace over hate, prosperity over ruin and respect over apathy.
    Vote Obama.

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Mike

    How can race not be a factor, there are a lot of people that will vote this year only because there is a race factor. There will be whites that vote against Obama just because and then there will be blacks that vote for Obama just because. This election will be decided because of race not because of who is better to serve.

    October 24, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Joe

    Judging from your glowing praise of Mccain I seriously doubt you are "on the fence". In relation to the article I seriously doubt that age is a bigger factor than race. I am a white American, 18 years old, and almost all of the teens I talk to talk about the race of the candidates more than the age. I can pretty much guarantee that the percentage of people who are lying in those polls is much greater than 1%, for both the people voting for him because he is black and the voters voting against because he is black.

    October 24, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Chris the Engineer

    Nightingale

    Don't hold your breath...

    October 24, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Bruce

    Nightengale...if he does have these secret plans..then he should be tried for treason..as is it not his duty as a Senator if he has these palns and "knows how to get bin Laden" that he would have put them inot effect...after all "Country First"....
    He has no plan...and he is no more tested sitting in the Presdients chair than Obama...don;t fall for his lies.
    I live in PA,,,and I am sick of his ads, and he and palin being here...he is a fool

    October 24, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Gerry in Va. for Obama.

    Nightingale.... IF your still on the fence after all the lies, half truths and flip flopping the McCain/ Palin group have been involved in, you must truely be a REPUBLICAN, so why don't you vote for them and it will make you feel better. It won't help them win the election but at least you'll know you tried. As for John Sidney McCain having two new plans, that seems highly unlikely since he hasn't had ONE GOOD PLAN SINCE MAY OF THIS YEAR... How long do you expect it should take to draw up a "plan" and carry it out on how to win an election. Much less TWO PLANS... If you think McCain wants to get this nation out of wars anywhere, you need to read about John McCain, George Bushe, Don Rumsfeld, Wolfewitz and Mr Boltons involvement in " The Project for a new American Century". Also known as PNAC. Its really easy to find the info out...Just google PNAC and read all about your hero John McCain..... Maby then you'll find a way to fall off that fence and vote OBAMA

    October 24, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Geoff

    Nightingale. I've heard about this plan you're talking about. First, Santa Claus is going to capture Bin Ladin. Then The Easer Bunny is going fix the economy, and finally, Jesus is going to replace Palin as his running mate.

    October 24, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. California Voter

    Age discrimination and sex discrimination are far more acceptable to people (especially among the bloggers here) than race discrimination!

    October 24, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Rob

    I like the picture. Yeah, let's do what the freaks in Paris want us to do. Hey! We are the best country in the world! They should be imitating us, not us them. Why do you think foreigners like Obama? Cuz he'll cut America down so that it's no better (and probably even worse) than they are.

    Sorry, you all want to be like the European countries, pack up your freak show and move over there. Leave America to those who want America to remain great.

    John McCain – the only choice for America.

    October 24, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Retired Veteran from New York City, NY

    I believe that Age is more of a factor than race. I am an African American and I will never vote for a Candidate based on that Candidate's race. I don't vote for Jesse Jackson, I don't vote for Al Sharpton.

    However, Age is a major factor in this election due to John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin. She is completely unfamiliar with anything, her narrow minded leads people to believe that she is a very incompetent person to handle anything. She is very ignorant, uneducated, incoherent, and at times, she seems having difficulty puting a complete phrase together. Sarah Palin is the downfall of John McCain. She is nothing but an insult to intelligent women or people, and for that matter she will only go to the White House as a Tourist not as a VP.

    October 24, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. tulsa

    Rick,
    You DO realize that most of Europe is Social Democrat, right?
    Do you know what a Socialist is?
    Have you ever been outside this country? Your state?
    Open your eyes and come into the light.
    Vote Obama

    October 24, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. paper st. soap co.

    im excited at the fact that everyone is finally waking up and paying attention to whos running the show. IT MATTERS TO EVERYONE. im so glad were all realizing. but people should realize that the republicans will be back if we all fall asleep again. we have to pay attention even when times get better......... the mummy always returns worse than before....... im intrested to see what the GOP morphs into in order to survive........ if young people stay involved, the republicans might go extinct if they dont find new issues to run on....... if they went back to their roots, their liberatarian roots.......... i would possibly vote for them in the future... possibly....

    October 24, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. Jay

    Give McCain some Arcept fast. McCain can't stay on track nor remember from one day til the next. That is why he always piggggggyyy back off of Obama.

    October 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Gina, Seattle

    McCain is the one who made age a major factor when he chose Palin. If someone else (almost anyone else) was standing next to him on the ticket, I don't believe age would be as big a deal as it has become.

    For some people, race will always be a major factor in their decisions, whether it be for or against someone. Those people were always out of reach but I don't think Obama was ever really targeting them. I think many people refuse to acknowledge their biases. The genius of the Obama campaign is they have been able to reach everyone they possibly could... forcing most people to look beyond his skin color.

    October 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. gObama!

    Since when has Obama been dissing people in WVa, PA and OH? Last I heard, his campaign has been working very hard on those areas.

    Actually...he's been working very hard everywhere. Unlike McCain who has been pulling his campaign out of several states because he figures there is no point wasting his time there anymore.

    October 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. Chris Anderson

    McCain looks more honest..

    October 24, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW

    I WISH YOU HAD TO TAKE A TEST TO VOTE!!!!

    THAT WAY MC CAIN WOULD WIN THIS ELECTION BY A MILE!!!!!

    October 24, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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