That race would be a big factor in the US presidential race was obvious from the beginning, but age and experience are also emerging as others, according to polls conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News.
While only 39 per cent of all white Americans would vote for Democratic nominee Barack Obama if the election were held today, 56 per cent have a favourable impression of him and 43 per cent think he has enough experience to be an effective President, the Post said on Sunday.
About two-thirds of whites in another Post-ABC poll said they are “entirely comfortable” with a black president, more than double the percentage of all adults who have the same view about someone becoming president at the age of 72. Republican nominee John McCain turns 72 in August.
Overall, the Post said, Obama leads McCain 48 per cent to 42. The latest Gallup poll puts Obama ahead 46 per cent to 44.
The Post-ABC poll also found that nearly half of all Americans think race relations are in bad shape; three in 10 acknowledged feelings of racial prejudice. Obama's mother was white, his father an African.
The good news for Obama, apart from the openness to the idea of a black President, is that he trails McCain among white voters by only 12 points, much less than John Kerry's deficit in 2004. (Twelve points was the margin by which Al Gore lost the white vote four years earlier.)
The bad news is that while 56 per cent of white voters have a favourable impression of him, only 47 per cent think he is a very safe choice for president.
Obama has time to work on such perceptions -- and he definitely has the money. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Obama is drawing up plans for extensive advertising and voter-turnout drives across the nation, the paper said.