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Opinion: For John McCain, experience simply may not count much

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Here’s part of the problem for John McCain, as detailed in a new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll that shows Barack Obama with a slight edge in the presidential race.

On the one hand, McCain enjoyed a whopping advantage over Obama when registered voters were asked about the candidates’ experience levels.

Few had doubts about McCain’s resume -- fully 80% said he had the right experience to be president, with just 16% saying he did not. The verdict on Obama was much more mixed -- 47% answered yes on the experience question for him, 45% answered no.

Yet when the voters were asked the most important qualification for presidential candidates, experience -- at 18% -- ranked behind their positions on the issues (27%) and character (23%).

Speaking of issues, the survey highlights how the focus has changed in a campaign that began -- almost two years ago -- at a time when unrest in Iraq dominated the headlines.

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When the voters were asked to pick the most important matter to them in choosing a candidate, 56% said domestic issues (such as the economy and health care), 17% said national security/terrorism, and 7% said social issues (such as abortion and gay rights). ‘All equally’ was selected by 17%.

The poll also found McCain making significant progress in closing the ‘passion gap’ that once loomed as a yawning chasm between him and Obama.

The Democrat’s supporters remain fired up, with 84% enthusiastic about his candidacy (55% described themselves as ‘very enthusiastic’).

But with McCain clearly energizing many Republicans with his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, 70% of his supporters now characterize themselves as enthusiastic about his candidacy (with 37% in the ‘very enthusiastic’ ranks).

-- Don Frederick


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