Reader Survey Results: Obama vs. McCain

The 2008 presidential race has been long and intense–and still has a few more months to go. Last week’s survey revealed the race among the two leading candidates is very close with many readers indicating they are voting against one candidate more than they are voting in favor of one man. The campaign is also generating strong opinions on controversial topics.

The 2008 presidential race is long and intense and the election is still another six months away.

Last week’s survey of readers on who would receive their vote if the election were being held right now generated over 3900 responses and hundreds of written opinions.

The results of the survey are very close. As the results pored in, McCain always kept a small lead over Obama ranging between 3% to 6%.

In reviewing the written comments, several trends emerged.

Many readers say they are voting against the other candidate rather than in favor of the other candidate. At least some readers are dissatisfied that Senator Clinton was not included in the poll and some readers commented that if Clinton is not the Democratic nominee, they would vote for McCain or not vote at all in the general election.

The most common complaint about Senator John McCain was his stand on the Iraq war. The second most common complaint was that Senator McCain does not favor positions that would enhance the status or economic gains of federal employees.

The most common complaints about Senator Barack Obama were his lack of experience and questions about his underlying philosophy and values or his patriotism. A number of readers mentioned his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

On the other hand, many readers cited the military service of Senator McCain as a positive factor or the energizing, engaging style of Senator Obama and his desire for "change."

And, to a greater extent than we have seen in previous surveys, readers also cited "racism," "sexism," "socialism," "Marxism," or other "ism’s" as their rationale in voting for or against a candidate.

Here are the final results. As you can see from the chart, the number of "undecided" voters is still about 4% and the number of people who chose "other" is 6% while McCain’s margin in the survey is about 3%.

Here are the final results. As you can see from the chart, the number of "undecided" voters is still about 4% and the number of people who chose "other" is 6% while McCain’s margin in the survey is about 3%.

The chart below shows the survey results. Please note that due to rounding, the percentages may not equal 100%.

Here is a representative sample of the comments sent in by readers. We realize that a political campaign can trigger strong reactions and comments. We automatically eliminate comments that appear too extreme or, to put it diplomatically, reflect a point of view or manner of expression that is outside the normal realm of civilized discourse. Nevertheless, some of the comments reflect opinions sure to generate strong disagreement from other readers. We have included a few of these comments on controversial issues as they were raised by a number of readers.

Here are a few of the comments regarding Senator Obama:

An employee of the VA in Washington, DC sees Obama as a leader: "Barack Obama is what this country needs now. His ability and capacity to cross partisan lines, reach out to the global community, strive to rebuild this country’s reputation in the world, solve the problems facing our society today are what we need. He is a once in a lifetime leader. "

A member of the Department of Labor’s support staff in Syracuse, NY wrote: "…Barack Obama’s show of disrespect for the US flag is a show of disrespect for the people of the US and our military who serve under this flag. It is also quite possibly the result of the years of influence of Pastor Wright. If I remember correctly, he started out wearing the flag on his lapel, then he removed it. If elected President, will he remove all of the US flags from the White House and Federal Buildings too?"

A program manager at Hill AFB commented: "Obama’s experience (a state senator) qualifies him to be POTUS? I don’t think so!"

An IT specialist with DFAS in Indianapolis is a strong Obama supporter: "I like Barack Obama’s fresh ideas, especially about the war and honoring soldiers."

An FAA employee in Los Angeles had this comment: "Barack H. Obama will divide the USA, is bad for the USA, and has to (sic) much baggage. He is to (sic) new with no experience to lead the free world. He is a black racist, has marxist beliefs, and a Muslim apologist."

A secretary with the Department of Labor in New York City has a different view: "I was originally for Hilary but since the NY vote have changed over to Barack. I am ready for a change and he is it."

An EEO manager with the Army in New Orleans supports Obama: "McCain is "Bush Lite." Obama is this generation’s Kennedy. He will turn this country around."

One reader described herself as an attorney and a "black female Democrat." Here is a portion of these observations: [S]exism is trumping racism in that the white male dominated society through its white male dominated media is threatened by a female becoming president. That would show the world how more efficient men are than women. They can’t risk that so they are promoting Obama no matter what. In the General election, racism will trump and thus McCain will win….I support Hillary Clinton. If Obama wins the nomination, I will declare myself as an Independent and will vote for McCain in the General Election."

A retired DHHS employee is enthusiastic about the Obama campaign: "I am one of the 1.5 million people who contribute to Obama’s campaign. This is the first time in my life I have done so. After experiencing the Clintons firsthand as a working fed (and voting for them twice), they are clearly not what the nation needs right now."

An officer with CBPO in Jamaica, NY writes: "Obama will be good change, and McCain would be bad Bush III."

Here is a sample of the comments regarding Senator McCain:

A physical scientist with Interior in Salt Lake City had this to say: "I’m not ready to vote for a socialist, that’s not how our country was founded (although McCain isn’t far behind). I don’t think that Obama has had enough experience to be president either."

An employee of the IRS from Fayetteville, NC likes McCain’s military background: "He was serving his country in Vietnam while I was in Vietnam at the same time. God bless John McCain."

A procurement supervisor with DoD is voting for McCain: "If Obama’s name was John Smith and I had never heard of Pastor Wright….I would have given Obama serious consideration over McCain. But Hussein Obama? And the government developing AIDS to kill of the black population? Just too much baggage."

An analyst with DHHS has also decided to reluctantly vote for McCain: "I’m not thrilled with John McCain, having lived in Arizona for years and not feeling that he represented the will of the people but rather his own political interests, but Barack Obama is so inexperienced it’s scary. And his long time close association with his pastor, who obviously hates America and just spews anti-American, anti-white rhetoric is horrifying."

A retired IRS special agent has decided to vote for McCain: "I like Obama but McCain has the most experience AND the Republican Right wing doesn’t like him. From a "Staunch Independent in the middle of the road"! We, like myself, are the voters who decide the election."

Many readers are still debating the issues and have conflicting thoughts about the candidates. Here are some of these comments.

An industrial specialist with the Defense Logistics Agency in Connecticut says: "I really don’t care for either. I very dissatisfied with the Bush administration and I’m afraid that McCain is going to continue in his footsteps. As for Obama, I don’t understand how you can go to church and no hear what the minister is saying and that hasn’t made me feel very good about him."

A sergeant with the Marine Corps in New York City is also conflicted: "One only talks and hasn’t done anything. Another is obviously a Socialist. At least Senator McCain has a no new taxes and pro-USA attitude. Still, he’s negligent in securing the USA borders."

A human resources advisor with DoD in Ogden, Utah also has mixed views of the candidates: "John McCain is a loose cannon and I have no idea what to expect. Barack Obama sounds too much like a Socialist. Just behind his very polished and poised veneer is some very scary stuff. It’s too obvious he will do anyting to be elected including distancing himself from a spiritual/social leader he has followed for many years, and, I suspect still does. I’d prefer honesty even if I disagree."

A manager with USDA in Washington has a prediction about the election: "Hillary will be on the ticket as the VP – the Republicans will lose by a land-slide in November – thank God, no more A-76, No more PMA, no more faith-based offices in every Department. Time to get back to doing the business of the people – not the corporate partners!!"

An intake advocate in Philadelphia reflected the opinion of several readers with this comment: "…[T]he only candidate that can beat McCain is Hillary Clinton. I feel she is the only candidate strong enough to bring our country back from the finical trouble we are in. The other two do not have enough experience in many things but mostly in foreign affairs. One thing is for sure, myself and many others I spoke with feel the same way, we will not stay with the party if Clinton losses the primary."

A program analyst with the VA in Phoenix doesn’t like either candidate: "We can’t afford what Obama will do. McCain is the lesser of all evils. To bad the political machinary of America won’t allow good men or women to run for the Presidency."

An attorney with DoD in Boston is still waiting to decide: "I don’t think I could vote for either. This can’t be the best there is! For the first time in my life, I probably will not vote for President, unless I really, really love the VP."The 2008 presidential race is long and intense and the election is still another six months away.

Our thanks to the thousands of readers who took the time to participate in this survey and a special thanks to the many readers who sent in their written comments.