Ageism Trumped Racism: Exit Polls
John McCain’s age hurt him far more than Barack Obama’s race, the exit polls show.
Race played less of a role in the presidential election than age, exit polls showed Tuesday.
Voters line up to cast their ballots in Henderson, Nevada, on Tuesday morning.
While Barack Obama would be the nation’s first black president, John McCain would be the oldest person ever elected to the nation’s highest office. And twice as many of those polled Tuesday said age was an important factor in their vote as those who said race was.
Among those factoring age into their vote, 78 percent went for Obama to 21 percent for McCain, exit polls showed.
Those who said race was an important factor voted 55 percent to 44 percent in favor of Barack Obama. But Obama also was the winner by a similar margin among those who said race was not important, “which suggests that race was not a decisive factor in this election,” CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said.
Indeed, as I’m speculated before, it seems that race mattered more in increasing black turnout than in anti-black backlash.
As noted nearly two years ago in my post “Black President More Likely than Mormon or Atheist,” only five percent of Americans would admit that they would refuse to vote for a black man, compared to a whopping 42 percent who said they wouldn’t vote for a 72-year-old. While people react differently to a generic candidate than an actual one, McCain’s age was certainly one among many factors that cost him the election tonight.
As an aside, while I’ve harped on the unreliability of exit polls all day, I’ve done it in the context of projecting election results. Properly conducted, they’re superb at assessing why people voted as they did.