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Poll: 7 of 10 say candidates' race not a factor in their vote

  • Story Highlights
  • New CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll released Friday on race
  • Poll: 5 percent of those polled say race is single most important factor
  • Poll: 11 percent say race one important factor, 13 percent say race minor issue
  • Roughly half of those polled say the age of the candidates will affect their vote
  • Next Article in Politics »
From Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national survey suggests that race won't be a major factor in the outcome of the presidential election.

If he wins, Sen. John McCain would be the oldest president inaugurated to a first term.

Race has played a large role in the election campaign narrative for Sen. Barack Obama.

Seven out of 10 -- or 70 percent -- of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Friday said 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 said 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.

Sen. Barack Obama, if elected, would be the first black American to win the White House. Video Watch more on the state of the campaign »

"First, don't assume that everyone who says that race is factor in their votes are voting against Obama. Some voters are choosing Obama because of his race. And many of those who say that race will influence their votes are Republicans who were highly unlikely to vote for any Democrat this year," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director.

"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 1 percentage point in each direction," Holland said.

One question that often comes up when discussing polling regarding race is whether those being polled are telling the truth.

"Take all this 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. 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," Holland said.

So, what about age? If elected, the 72-year-old John McCain would be the oldest person to be inaugurated as president.

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Roughly half of those polled said the age of the candidates will affect their vote. That's essentially unchanged since July. Three percent said age would be their most important factor, 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 Corp. 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.

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