A black president, sure — but a smoker, not so fast

A new poll reveals Americans' presidential preferences, and some may be surprised by the results.

Topics: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, War Room, Mitt Romney, John McCain, R-Ariz., Rudy Giuliani,

Apparently, Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Ill., race won’t be a problem for his presidential run — but his smoking habit might. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans say they would be no less likely to vote for a candidate just because he or she was female or black, but many balked at the idea of voting for a candidate who was older or who smoked.

Overall, 13 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a woman for president, but 14 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a woman, while 6 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a black person and 7 percent said they would be more likely. That bodes well for the Democrats, and especially Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. But other poll results showed trouble ahead for the Republican field. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will be 72 when the November 2008 general election rolls around, and 58 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for someone who was over 72. Another question, apparently aimed at gauging the prospects of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, showed 29 percent of respondents less likely to vote for a Mormon, with only 4 percent more likely; one question aimed at the twice-divorced Rudy Giuliani showed 26 percent less likely to vote for someone with his marriage record.

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Meanwhile, Obama might want to make sure he continues to kick that smoking habit, or at least make like the late President John F. Kennedy and hide it: Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were less likely to vote for a smoker.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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