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

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

ALT TEXT

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. nobama

    Obama is not eligible to be POTUS unless he proves beyond the shadow of doubt that he is a legitimate citizen of the U.S.A. ALthough his campaign has posted a birth certificate as proof of citizenship rumors abound on its legitimacy and authenticity. Obama has yet to release personal records from his college years too. There are at least three lawsuits against Obama demanding he release an ORIGINAL and real birth certificate. Obama's paternal grandmother has said that Obama was born in Kenya and not in Hawaii. She was present during Obama's birth in Kenya. One of the lawsuits is in Hawaii and the judge is set to give a ruling any day. Is that the REAL reason why Obama suspended his campaing and flew to Hawaii?

    October 24, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Gracie

    REPUBLICANS.....GET READY FOR A NEW ERA IN POLITICS!!

    CHANGE IS HERE...AND WILL BE RE-WRITTEN.

    October 24, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Sandra

    He's actually biracial.

    October 24, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Scott NYC Independent

    Forget age McCain is confused, erratic and head strong all the signs of mental disease

    October 24, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. TF

    John McCain = Change you can put Depends on!! ; )

    October 24, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Country first

    When you go out there to vote you better pay good attention and double check your vote before you summit it. In some state if not all the republicans fix the machine up. If you vote straight democratic they fix the machine so your presidential vote go for McCain instead of Barack. So you might think you vote for Barack and the machine was fix and it goes the other way. So pay good attention to make sure your presidential vote goes to your choosing candidate. These are disgusting tactics that the republicans are using right now in some part of Texas and may be nationwide. We need fair and free election so rigging these machines is nothing but disgusting tactics. Also when you go to the polling place no political T-shirt because they will turn you away.

    October 24, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. That Other Jerry

    I don't know about other areas of the country, but here in the South it will be interesting to see how the older voters balance their historical tendency to vote Democratic against any remaining racial prejudices they may have.

    October 24, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. nowaynobama

    Obama is not eligible to be POTUS unless he proves beyond the shadow of doubt that he is a legitimate citizen of the U.S.A. ALthough his campaign has posted a birth certificate as proof of citizenship rumors abound on its legitimacy and authenticity. Obama has yet to release personal records from his college years too. There are at least three lawsuits against Obama demanding he release an ORIGINAL and real birth certificate. Obama's paternal grandmother has said that Obama was born in Kenya and not in Hawaii. She was present during Obama's birth in Kenya. One of the lawsuits is in Hawaii and the judge is set to give a ruling any day. Is that the REAL reason why Obama suspended his campaing and flew to Hawaii?

    October 24, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. time 4 change

    Age is a huge factor. Average lifespan for a man in USA is 75.
    Now thats a scary thought.....President Palin ?!!!!
    we would be doomed.
    McCain is feeble and old.

    McCain and Palin together make up 1/2 a brain.

    October 24, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. Tyree,LV-Independent For Obama

    Race Should Not Be A Factor.
    That Being Said There Is Only One Way To Go This Election.

    Obama/Biden 08'

    October 24, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. hilary b

    I would hope that in 2008 race would no longer be a factor. Unfortunately, after seeing public displays of racism by voters, I think it will play a small part.

    October 24, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. T from AZ

    I belive, Sen. Barack Obama has run the most fantastic race I've ever
    "Noticed" before. He has surronded himself with the Best Advisors as well. I am of an Ethnic Origin, and have never really thought about his color nor race before. I will now take time to ponder if it matters............................. Heck Naw, by Golly!

    Bush and Chenny are probably playing Knock Knock.... Whos there........ Barack and the Democats Fool!

    October 24, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Country first

    When you go out there to vote you better pay good attention and double check your vote before you summit it. In some state if not all the republicans fix the machine up. If you vote straight democratic they fix the machine so your presidential vote go for McCain instead of Barack. So you might think you vote for Barack and the machine was fix and it goes the other way. So pay good attention to make sure your presidential vote goes to your choosing candidate. These are disgusting tactics that the republicans are using right now in some part of Texas and may be nationwide. We need fair and free election so rigging these machines is nothing but disgusting tactics. Also when you go to the polling place no political T-shirt because they will turn you away.

    October 24, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  14. jaye

    If the young voters would get out the vote then we'll see huge voter numbers this year. Huge!

    October 24, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Judy, FL

    McCain is too old for President and too young depends. McCain knows that he is not going into this for the long haul. Just to say that he can run.

    October 24, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. BatCat05

    CNN don't believe the hype, those 7 out of 10 sold you a load of cow pies! It doesn't take a rocket scientist or Limbaugh to tell you which direct the wind is coming from on the political landscape.

    October 24, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. C W

    The only color that matters in this election is green: People are really struggling, and our economy is being rocked.

    Obama offers clear, common-sense plans for getting our economy back on track; McCain offers to extend tax cuts to the rich, which everyone knows doesn't work.

    The choice is simple: Vote Obama/Biden.

    October 24, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. Charlie Bradley

    Age has nothing to do with it. And I suspect, for others like me, race has nothing to do with it. Its not even a question of party loyalty as we've seen with the two Republican endorsements of Obama. For many like me, whom have carefully followed the candidates, the debates, the press, the rallies, etc, its about using those resources to make a sound decision. I'll be 29 about a month after the election, and as a product of my generation and education, I have been taught, and naturally blessed with an ability to think critically and analytically, and that has led me to believe that the right candidate for President is one of Mixed–NOT BLACK NOT WHITE–Race. His name is Barack Obama

    October 24, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. Proud to be American

    Race is a factor to the natural bias individuals .... the Americans that will just vote on the policies and issues will hands down vote for Obama however, I know several individuals that state they will not vote for Obama simply because he is African American (I know half) regardless if his mom is white.... sad but true. Race is a factor in America.

    October 24, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. cindy

    This isn't about race or age its about who has the intelligence to carry out their duties- There's only one man that has shown knowledge, intelligence and character and that is Obama!

    We want a President with character and wisdom!

    October 24, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Open Your 3rd Eye

    FORGET RACE, AGE, AND GENDER.

    VOTE COMMON SENSE.

    IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

    WE = ARE = ONE = NATION

    Obama/Biden

    October 24, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Brian from Canada

    I would take an experienced man over a man that is green anyday.

    I would also take a man that is pro business (McCain) over a liberal change for the worse man that would increase taxes and double the size of government (Barack) any day.

    I would also take an approach that improves the productive people's lives (McCain) over a man that rewards the lazy amongst us by punishing the hard workers amongst us (Barack)

    McCain Palin and Hillary 2008

    October 24, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. tangerine

    HAVE YOU VOTED ?GO AND VOTE!!

    October 24, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    And again, CNN trying to prejudice people.

    Obama is BI-RACIAL – think that means black and white.

    OLD IS OLD.

    October 24, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Jason Hussein, Nashville, Tn.

    I thoroughly enjoy seeing the small number of pro-McCain posts on these tickers. A lot of them actually have the audacity to say that the Media is in the tank for Obama. This is funny to me simply because for the 200 and 2004 election George W. Bush had his own News Channel...Fox News. Now the double standard comes out from the poor, terrified Republicans.

    This is my first time voting. I have usually stayed out of politics because I thought my vote didn't mean anything. I voted early for Barack Obama, and have donated money. I am 29, for all of us who never really cared one way or the other, reality has hit us right in the face. Things must change, wether some people want it to or not.

    *CNN, please post this, thank you.

    October 24, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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