Whether John McCain or Barack Obama wins in November, a majority of Americans say they will be proud of the new president, according to a FOX News poll released Thursday.
About two-thirds would be at least somewhat proud to have Obama, who would be the first African-American president. A similar number would be proud to have McCain, who would be the first Vietnam veteran to become president. In addition, a majority think McCain loves America "a great deal," while less than half think Obama does.
• Click here to view full results of the poll (pdf).
Overall, 65 percent of Americans say they would be extremely, very or somewhat proud to have Obama as president. For McCain, 66 percent say so. And four in 10 Americans say they will be proud regardless of which candidate wins.
Some 20 percent would be "extremely" proud to have Obama as president. Fewer — 12 percent — say they would be "extremely" proud to have McCain as the country’s leader. For each candidate, more than a quarter of Americans say they would not be proud to have him as president.
A 64 percent majority of voters think McCain loves America "a great deal." Fully 73 percent of Republicans think so, as do 66 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats.
Almost half of voters (48 percent) think Obama loves America "a great deal." That includes 68 percent of Democrats, 45 percent of independents and 27 percent of Republicans.
If the presidential election were held today and the only thing voters knew was one candidate was a Democrat and the other a Republican, the Democrat would have a 7-percentage point advantage — 42 percent to 35 percent.
These results are strikingly similar to results from seven months ago when neither of the current prospective nominees was considered the favorite to win his party’s nomination. At that time 43 percent said they would vote for the Democrat and 34 percent the Republican (Nov. 13-Nov. 14).
When the candidate’s names are used, however, the Democrat’s advantage narrows to a slim 4-point edge. Obama tops McCain by 45 percent to 41 percent, with 14 percent undecided.
Obama captures 81 percent of the vote among Democrats, and McCain takes the same percentage of Republicans (81 percent). Among independents, the vote splits 38 percent McCain to Obama’s 30 percent.
"These numbers speak to the potential for another very close race in November," says Ernest Paicopolos, principal of Opinion Dynamics Corp. "Independent voters — favoring McCain — could provide the margin of victory in several ‘toss-up’ states and lead to a slim Electoral College edge for either side."
Most Clinton supporters strongly back Obama — 68 percent, up from 47 percent in April. Still, 17 percent say they would vote for McCain if the election were today, and 15 percent are undecided.
When independent Ralph Nader (4 percent) and Libertarian candidate Bob Barr (2 percent) are included, both of the major party candidates drop a couple of points although the spread between them stays about the same at 3 points.
The race widens a bit when hypothetical vice presidential running mates are added to the mix. An Obama-Hillary Clinton ticket tops a Republican ticket of McCain and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney by 7 points (48 percent to 41 percent).
There is a general sense of satisfaction with the presidential candidate choices in this year’s election, but that feeling is down slightly from the last election when incumbent President Bush was running for re-election. In April 2004, 71 percent said they were satisfied, while today 64 percent say so.
Democrats are much more satisfied — 42 percent are "very" satisfied — more than three times as many as the 12 percent of Republicans who say so. Democrats also are more likely to say they are "extremely" interested in the election — 40 percent to 31 percent of Republicans.
Opinion Dynamics conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from June 17 to June 18. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Overall, people say the candidate they trust more is McCain by 43 percent to 37 percent for Obama.
On handling specific issues, McCain is trusted more to handle terrorism (plus-19 points), the situation in Iraq (plus-6 points) and illegal immigration (plus-5 points). Obama is trusted more to handle health care (plus-16 points) and the economy (plus-8 points).
When asked which troubles them more, a 43 percent plurality of voters say Obama’s "relative youth and inexperience," while almost a third says (31 percent) McCain’s "advanced age and number of years in Washington."
Candidate Spouses Are Fair Game
If the spouse of the presidential candidate is campaigning and speaking publicly on the candidate’s behalf, Americans think it is fair to challenge them. A 57 percent majority says the spouses are fair game in the campaign, while 34 percent think the spouses should be off limits.
Last month Obama asked Republicans to "lay off" his wife, Michelle, after an advertisement was made using video of her making what some believed were unpatriotic comments.
Men (59 percent) and women (55 percent) were about equally likely to say spouses should be fair game in the campaign.
Michelle Obama (44 percent favorable) and Cindy McCain (41 percent favorable) are about equally well-liked. Similarly, both women receive the same level of support when voters are asked who they would rather have as first lady: 35 percent for each.
Michelle Obama (29 percent unfavorable) has a slightly higher negative rating than does Cindy McCain (21 percent unfavorable). Cindy McCain is less well-known — 39 percent of voters were unable to give an opinion of her.
Clinton’s Role in an Obama Presidency
While many voters (42 percent) say they are happy that Obama beat Clinton, many others are either unhappy (26 percent) or have mixed feelings about it (21 percent).
Among Democrats, 50 percent say they are happy Obama won — more than the 37 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of independents who say they are happy. Women (44 percent) are slightly more likely than men (40 percent) to be happy Obama won.
What role should Clinton play in an Obama presidency?
Some would like to see her as vice president (28 percent) and others say in the cabinet (23 percent). Few (9 percent) want her to be a United States Supreme Court justice. In fact, the largest number comes from people volunteering a response that wasn’t read to them: that Clinton should take none of these positions and instead stay in her current position as a U.S. senator (29 percent).