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New poll shows a deadlocked campaign -- in all ways

March 26, 2008 |  6:44 pm

Could the presidential race, no matter how it's sliced or diced, be any closer?

Not as of this point, at least according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Based on interviews conducted Monday and Tuesday, the survey found Democratic voters split absolutely down the middle, 45% to 45%, between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Among all voters polled, general election matchups between the two Democrats and presumed Republican nominee John McCain stacked up this way:

  • McCain, 46%; Clinton, 44%
  • Obama, 44%; McCain 42%.

Both results are well within the 3.7 percentage point margin of error for this portion of the survey.

The figures that really grabbed our attention, however, concern the electability of a candidate who is black, a woman or ...

over 70 years old.

In the first two categories, the figures were almost exactly the same -- among all voters, 72% said the country is ready to elect a black person; 71% said the same for a woman (the negatives for those two categories were 18% and 20%, respectively).

But the "yes" responses dropped to 61% on the age question -- with 29% saying no, the nation would not opt to send a candidate over 70 to the White House.

Many political analysts long have held that results on race and gender electability may not be reliable; that some voters may not be willing to admit, even when being interviewed anonymously by a pollster, such a bias.

McCain, who turns 72 on Aug. 29 and is vying to become the oldest person to first assume the presidency, had better hope that's the case -- and that the same principle doesn't apply on the age matter.

There are other fascinating findings in the new poll; the take on it from the NBC political shop focuses on a noteworthy drop in Clinton's favorability ratings (you can read about that here). And the entire poll is available for perusal here.

-- Don Frederick

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