FACTORS – Age continues to look like a major hurdle for McCain. Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they'd be uncomfortable with a president first taking office at age 72, far more than say they'd be uncomfortable with a woman (16 percent) or African-American (12 percent) as president.
The greatest risk of losing votes is among those who are "entirely" uncomfortable with the idea; that's 15 percent for a 72-year-old president, vs. 6 and 7 percent, respectively, for a black or female president. Slightly more seniors say they'd be entirely uncomfortable with a president that age, 20 percent, as do adults under 65, 14 percent.
While overall discomfort with an African-American president is much lower, it rises among less-educated whites – the same group that's been a challenge for Obama in the Democratic primaries. Among whites who haven't gone through college, 17 percent say they'd be at least somewhat uncomfortable with a black president; that compares with just 4 percent of white college graduates. Clinton may face a similar problem, however; less-educated whites also are more apt to be uncomfortable with a woman president (21 percent, vs. 7 percent of white college graduates).
This poll — like the last ABC News/Washington Post survey — finds no apparent damage to Obama in the controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Six in 10 Americans, and 73 percent of Democrats, say Obama has done "the right amount" to distance himself from Wright, rather than too little or too much.
In another measure, 26 percent say the more they hear about Obama the more they like him – more than say that about Clinton (15 percent) or McCain (14 percent). Obama's the only one among them to have gained as much as he's lost in the recent public glare.
McCAIN – In other signs of difficulties for McCain, Obama leads him in trust to handle the public's top issue, the economy, by 10 points; in trust to handle gasoline prices, by 20 points; and in trust to handle health care, by 24 points. On personal attributes Obama leads by wide margins as being better able to bring needed change, having the better temperament for the job, better empathy and a clearer vision for the future.
McCain also could suffer from the broader public discontent, generally and with George W. Bush in particular. Public disgruntlement neared a record high in this poll, with 82 percent of Americans saying the country's seriously off on the wrong track, up 10 points in the past year to a point from its record high in polls since 1973. And Bush slipped to his career low approval rating, 31 percent. (Separate story here.)
In a related result, the Democratic Party in general leads the Republicans in trust to handle the main issues the nation faces, by 53-32 percent – the biggest gap in favor of the Democrats in data since 1982. The question, again, is whether that fades in Bush's wake.
There's less consensus among Republicans about McCain's vice presidential choice than there is among Democrats on Obama's, if he's the nominee. Among Republicans, 12 percent prefer Mitt Romney to run with McCain; 7 percent are for Mike Huckabee, down from 17 percent in early March. Five percent favor Condoleezza Rice.