These results come from two questions included in a USA Today/Gallup poll. One question asked respondents whether Obama’s race would make him more effective, would make him less effective, or would make no difference if he were to be elected president.
A parallel question asked about the perceived impact of the fact that McCain would be 72 when inaugurated next January, were he to win.
More than 8 out of 10 Americans say Obama’s race would make no difference in terms of his effectiveness in the White House. Of the rest, just as many say his being black would make him more effective as president as say it would make him less effective. So, as far the public is concerned, Obama’s race appears to be neutral in terms of perceptions about his ability to serve effectively as president.
There is more expressed concerned about McCain’s age. As is the case with Obama’s race, the majority of Americans say that McCain’s being 72 next January would not make any difference in terms of his effectiveness in the White House. But 23% say McCain would be less effective as a result of his age. The net result is a slightly negative view of the impact of McCain’s advanced age.
Exactly the same percentage — 82% — of both Obama voters and McCain voters say Obama’s being black would make no difference in terms of his effectiveness as a president. But, importantly, only 14% of McCain voters have a negative view of the impact of Obama’s race (compared with the 37% of Obama voters who view the impact of McCain’s age negatively).
Independents, the key group that both campaigns are heavily targeting, basically reflect the opinions of the overall average in their views of the impact of Obama’s race and McCain’s age.