Thursday, February 22, 2007

John McCain Might As Well Be Gay?

In terms of his presidential prospects, that is.

To explain, I, like many liberals, wouldn't have any trouble whatsoever voting for an openly gay presidential candidate, but it goes without saying that a good portion of the US population would.

In fact, a recent USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans what personal attributes would prevent them from voting for a well-qualified candidate from their respective political party.

According to the poll, 43 percent of respondents would not vote for someone for president solely because he or she is gay. The only personal attribute out of those examined by the poll that turned off more people was atheism, which brought out the ire of 53 percent of respondents.

But just a hair above sexual orientation on the list was being 72 years old, which 42 percent of respondents said would cause them not to vote for their party's chosen candidate.

When the general election rolls around in 2008, John McCain will have just turned 72.

Here's a chart of the results for the entire question:

This, of course, is just one poll, and it doesn't mean that McCain couldn't be elected president or that he would face the same level of public scrutiny over his age that openly gay presidential candidates would over their sexual orientation. After all, Ronald Reagan was elected to his first term just a few months under 70 and he ended his two terms as president just shy of 78.

I imagine if the age question was personalized for people by explaining to them, for instance, that Reagan was almost 70 when first elected, the number opposed to a 72 year old presidential candidate would drop. Unfortunately, I don't think any amount of contextualization would make the number drop all that significantly on the gay question.

Still, though, the results are still an interesting, if incomplete, picture of the personal attributes that Americans seem to think a president should have.

Side-Note: It's amazing to me that 5 percent of respondents still think one of those attributes should be white skin, while 11 percent think another should be a long as it's used only as the God you better believe in intended...though not with three different women whom you pledge before that God to have and to hold 'till death do you part...okay, I'll stop now.

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