Do people lie to pollsters? Old, twice-divorced, smoking Mormons sure hope so!

The new AP/WaPo poll is out, and it has some interesting info about people’s attitudes regarding the current president, and a future president to be. First, on the future:

21. On another subject: I’m going to read a few attributes that might be found in a candidate for president. Please tell me if each would make you (more likely) to vote for that candidate for president, or (less likely) to vote for that candidate, or if it wouldn’t matter.

2/25/07 – Summary Table

a. someone who is a woman More: 14, Less: 13, wouldn’t matter: 72 no op: 1
b. someone who is black More: 7 Less: 6 Wouldn’t matter: 87 no op: *
c. someone who is a Mormon More: 4 Less: 29 Wouldn’t matter: 66 no op: 1
d. someone who is over age 72 More: 3 Less: 58 Wouldn’t matter: 39 no op:*
e. someone who has been divorced twice More: 3 Less: 26 Wouldn’t mat: 71 no op:1
f. someone who smokes cigarettes More: 2 Less: 21 no mat: 77 no op: *

The worst news in the poll is for John McCain. It seems the worst thing a candidate can be in the eyes of the voting — or at least the poll-taking public — is old. A whopping 58 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is over 72 years of age. McCain is 71, and looks every freaking day of it.

Also on the no-no list for voters: being twice divorced. 26 percent of voters were sour on that. Sorry, Rudy. (Lucky for Rudy, the WaPo didn’t ask how voters felt about a candidate who once was married to his cousin … )

On the female question, poll respondents have become considerably less unlikely to support a woman for president over time. When the question was asked in May of 1988, 25 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who was a woman. Now, it’ sdown to 13 percent, with a high 72 percent saying it “wouldn’t matter.”

On the race question, 27 percent of respondents in May 1988 said they would be less likely to support a candidate who is Black, versus just 6 percent now. It’s on this question that the cynic in me is tempted to ask whether people are as willing in 2007, to tell pollsters honestly, that they would have a problem supporting a Black candidate. I’m tempted to believe that the number who would have said trouble is considerably higher than 6 percent…

Moving on to the Mormon question, there is a sizeable minority of respondents who apparently have closed that door, with 29 percent of respondents less likely to give a Mormon candidate a chance, and a whopping 60 percent of those who said they would be less likely, adding that there is, in fact, “no chance” that they would vote for a Mormon for president. And 29 percent of the “no Mormon” respondents said they feel that way because they are “uncomfortable with, or dislike” Mormonism (6 percent went with the polygamy angle.) Not good news for Mr. Romney, who’s internal strategy memo made the BoGlobe today, elucidating the fact that “electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed.” A salient bite:

The plan, for instance, indicates that Romney will define himself in part by focusing on and highlighting enemies and adversaries, such common political targets as “jihadism,” the “Washington establishment,” and taxes, but also Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, “European-style socialism,” and, specifically, France. Even Massachusetts, where Romney has lived for almost 40 years, is listed as one of those “bogeymen,” alongside liberalism and Hollywood values.

Indeed, a page titled “Primal Code for Brand Romney” said that Romney should define himself as a foil to Bay State Democrats such as Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry and former governor Michael Dukakis. Romney should position himself as “the anti-Kerry,” the presentation says. But elsewhere in the plan, it’s clear that Romney and his aides are aware he’s open to the same charge that helped derail Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004: that he is a flip-flopper who has changed positions out of political expediency.


Also interesting in the poll, and this one’s for Barack Obama, is the rather sizable percentage of voters who said they could not support a smoker (21 percent).

One good piece of news for Hillary Clinton, I suppose, is that of those respondents who said they would be less likely to support a woman candidate, only 15 percent said it was because they didn’t like Mrs. Clinton in particular. Twice that number — 31 percent — said it was because they simply don’t think a woman can do the job. How nice.

Next, on the ever present subject of President Bush: two thirds of respondents disagree with his decision to surge 21,500 troops into Iraq, including 56 percent who “strongly disagree.” And 58 percent support John Murtha’s idea of limiting U.S. troop activities in Iraq to training Iraqi troops, plus guaranteeing rest time for the troops who’ve already served in theater. By 51-46, respondents opposed the idea of limiting funding for the Iraq war. Two thirds support the idea of “reducing U.S. military and financial support for the Iraqi government if the Iraqis fail to make progress toward national unity and restoring civil order,” however, and by 53-46 percent, respondents favored setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

And there’s this:

18. Overall, do you feel that you can or cannot trust the Bush administration to honestly and accurately report intelligence about possible threats from other countries?

Can Cannot No opin.
2/25/07 35 63 2

Which is probably why respondents split right down the middle, 47-44 in favor, on the question of whether the Bush administration has the evidence to support their allegations about Iran’s meddling in Iraq.

Go figure. For the WaPo’s analysis on the poll, click here.

Other polling fun: Watch out mama, here comes Obama … in the Zogby poll dated February 26, Hil’s lead in the Dem primary is now 33-25. Barack was at 14 the last time the poll was done.

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