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

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


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. The American Dream is Alive and Well

    Nightingale Sings – A secret plan to extract us from Afghanistan and Iraq???? If McCain has a plan to get us out what the hell is he waiting for?? I have lost two soldiers very close to me in Iraq. According to you, McCain is just biding his time??? I don't think so. I can't believe you're so ignorant enough to believe that. Obama opposed the war from the beginning!!

    We need Obama in the White House. PLEASE go vote, early if you can.

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. tulsa

    What should be the major factor is how these two approach a problem, feel about inclusion and what they offer for our future.
    Do they offer a knee-jerk response and live with the outcome, or do they THINK, CONSULT and make a decision based on the best available data?
    Do we vote for someone trying to divide the people of this nation or someone who wants to bring us together?
    Do we vote for someone with stale worn out disproven ideas or someone with a clear vision and plan for a strong, safe, clean and prosperous America?

    We all know who I am describing in these scenarios.
    Vote smart. Vote Obama

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Dh

    Well, if he has a plan, he better tell you soon...and if he did, it would be smart to tell people now as he is falling in the polls daily...there is no secret plan, there is no strategy with his campaign and there isn't a prayer in the world to help him with this one....he might have had a better chance had he chosen a qualified and competent running mate, but his plan to fool us about her didn't work...better think twice...

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Danielle

    I don't think it would be an issue if McCain pick a qualified VP as he's running mate. The fact that Sarah is on the ticket and could be our President (so scary) is the reason age is coming up now. The world knows she is not smart enough to run our beautiful country. I would not trust her with my children, let alone my country I hold so dear to my heart. McCain blow it and it's past time he admits it.

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. tom

    I don't know how black Obama rates on the "black-meter" but McCain is at least as old as Obama is black.

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Colin

    Obama didn't say anything about the people in those areas where do you get your news from? I'm sorry if McCain hasn't come up with an economic plan in the last two years I can't really say it can be taken seriously in the last 11 days of an election. McCain has stated that he doesn't want to leave Iraq and doesn't want to extract us from Afghanistan he wants to do a second "surge" there. If your statements are true then it just shows McCain flip flopping on issues yet again in this campaign.

    In my opinion age wouldn't matter as much if McCain had a VP candidate running with him who was actually capable of running our country. Palin as President is scarier than McCain would be as President and I wouldn't trust him at all.

    Obama/Biden the only candidates who haven't flip flopped on issues and have had a consistent message throughout this entire campaign. If you want change your only hope is voting Obama/Biden '08.

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Colleen

    btw...no one cares about McCains new plans for anything...he is too late...by 8 years...

    ..and...does anyone else recall how Cindy bragged on one of the tabloid programs how she was instrumental in picking Sarah..I bet she wishes she had that back to do over...

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Rick

    Netherlands blogger Michael van der Galien reports that a group of young Dutch Socialists will be flying here to campaign for Barack Obama:
    They would travel to the United States to campaign for Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for the presidency.
    In fact, one of the demands of potential applicants is that they need to have a “great affinity with the Democratic Party and Barack Obama.”

    But this, of course, is strickly coincidence...because we all know that Obama is not a socialist.

    October 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. 53 Year Old Black American Female in L.A.

    Obama had me at the 2000 Democratic Convention! Voting for him is so easy because he believes the way I believe. It is like he is talking directly to me. I can understand him. And I believe him. So race nor age has nothing to do with my vote.

    Obama-Biden in '08!

    October 24, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Paris

    Because the media is more sensitive toward racism than ageism.

    The hypocrisy of the media see’s no limit.
    Prejudice is prejudice no matter what, but the media only focuses on it when it is about race.

    October 24, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Liberated!

    No one wants an old beat up tired angry nasty President.

    Obama '08!

    October 24, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Ben from PA

    what are these reliable sources? Why is the plan secret?

    October 24, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. True Blue Ohio

    The only way McCain will carry Ohio, is if he steals it. Ohio has lost 2000,000 jobs, McCain has played a part in that. Hopefully McCain's plan involves him running a respectful campaign free from negativity and hatred for the duration, and humbly conceeding on Nov. 4th, so that restoration can be begin with Obama and Biden at the helm.

    October 24, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    McSame's age means that Failin may be president before she knows it!
    Don't take a chance on her...EVER!!! VOTE !

    Vote for REAL change, not the slogan(Change) McShame hijacked from Obama!! Oh well McPalin's time is coming on 04 Nov 11:59 PM to go back home and wonder what happened!

    Obama/Biden 08/12 & The magic number... 60(Seats) DEM

    October 24, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. weneedstrongleadership

    Remember John McBusch is 70 plus years old and the average lifespan is 70+ so if you vote McCain you are voting Palin for President. As far as dissing various states, it's about the economy stupid. Not what someone said or may have said. Ohio is losing Chrysler and to have another four more years of the inane Busch policies is totally insane.

    October 24, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Maureen

    wow nightingale...you are truly delusional.

    I am not voting for Obama because of McCain's age. But I have heard one person tell me he would not vote for McCain because he is too old. Personally, I think McCain is on the verge of dementia.

    October 24, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. chuck

    Race will be the most important factor in this election, and anyone who does not believe this is naive. As a western Pennsylvania native for 50 years, John Murtha was absolutely right. It is one of the most racist parts of the country. The "go back to Africa" yelling, and the stuffed monkey with an Obama hat on were all recorded here in western PA. The Milltown mentality is just as Obama said, angry people clinging to their guns and religion. It's not just a rural thing here either. We here refer to it as Pennsyltuckey. Redneck, white, angry, and full of hate. Just ask any african american person who lives here. PS: I am white and gay, and almost hated as much.

    October 24, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. VCC

    Nightingale Sings there is not secret plan. If he had a plan why won't he share it with the Joint Chiefs so we can end this now? Don't be fooled.

    October 24, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. AVR

    If McCain had picked a qualified VP, like Romney, or Ridge, it would be a non-issue.

    October 24, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Tim in Ohio

    Yeah, Nightingale... it sure sounds like you're on the fence.

    October 24, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. lets see

    Fact: the older you get more likely to get sick you are.

    Of course age is an issue. A vote to McCain could mean a vote to Palin. Palin for president! That is scary.

    October 24, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. The Stallion & The Champ vs. The Old Mule and Winky Half-baked Alaska

    The question should have been how age relates to competence, intellect and reality.

    October 24, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. theogracias

    I hear there is a big crack in the Joe the Plumber Tour!!?!?

    This is great news for John McCain!!!

    When they offered Sarah $150,000 in new clothes ...she said Thanks but no... eh Could fix up the rest of the family with free swag as well????

    October 24, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. The Bluest Skies are in Seattle

    It won't matter lets consider what qualities people have,education,intelligence, ,judgement and forget sex and race .
    Why do you keep calling Obama Black ? This man is half white as well .

    Obama is The One and The One we have needed for last 8 years Plus
    McvCain ya better get ready to move fast I see a landslide heading toward you and its wide and deep.

    October 24, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Wrong

    Nightingale I live in PA and McCain's policies don't help any one in my neighborhood because we don't fall into his tax bracket so Obama has a much stronger hold than you think and it's looking pretty solid!

    October 24, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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