July 10th, 2008 by Rightsideup

(back from vacation so likely to be posting slightly more frequently again)

CNN has a story about a Gallup poll relating to John McCain’s age and Barack Obama’s race, and it draws some strong conclusions from the poll. But it seems to me that the poll is asking the wrong questions:

The question should be, “does John McCain’s age / Barack Obama’s race make you any less likely to vote for him?” The numbers of people who say these facts are a problem in both cases are pretty tiny anyway, but nowhere in this question are voters asked to rank these concerns against other factors that may influence the way they vote. All 11% of those saying McCain’s age is a problem may think that other factors outweigh it (or may be Democratic voters who wouldn’t vote for him in the first place), while many of the 9% who think Obama’s race is a problem are probably systemic racists who would be unlikely to vote for a black man for president regardless of other factors. Don’t we need more information here to draw the kind of conclusion CNN does?