It's probably the least important issue facing America today, but the people have nevertheless spoken. Given a choice between inviting Barack Obama and John McCain to a barbecue, Americans choose the Democratic senator from Illinois over the Republican senator from Arizona by 52 percent to 45 percent, according to a new Associated Press-Yahoo! News poll out yesterday.
"Having Obama to a barbecue would be like a relaxed family gathering, while inviting McCain ' would be more like a retirement party than something fun,' " the Associated Press quoted 38-year-old Washington, D.C., systems engineer Wesley Welbourne as saying.
Lest you think it's a throwaway statistic, consider that many people think George W. Bush won re-election in 2004 partly because 57 percent of Americans decided that he was the kind of guy they'd rather have a beer with than John Kerry.
Here are some other figures the AP-Yahoo poll (1,759 adult respondents, sampling error of plus/minus 2.3 percentage points) came up with:
- Men were pretty much split evenly over presidential BBQ guests, while women flocked to Obama by 11 points.
- Whites preferred Obama, and minorities Obama.
- Younger voters preferred Obama, while the eldest liked McCain.
- 75 percent of both Dems and Republicans stayed within party lines, with independents split down the middle.
So far, no surprises. But here's the interesting number:
- One in six people who say they're going to go McCain in November said they'd prefer Obama as a barbecue guest. Only 1 in 20 declared Obama voters said they'd invite McCain.
That seems to go against the conventional wisdom that Obama is excellent on big speeches but doesn't reveal as much of his rhetorical magnetism in close quarters, while McCain is painted as a wooden speaker who enjoys a better one-on-one reputation.
But let's not forget that Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Mitt Romney and Ralph Nader all have to eat, too. Which of any of this year's candidates would you invite to your backyard 'cue, and why?
Michael Y. Park is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He studied medieval history as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and journalism as a graduate student at New York University. His stories have appeared in publications including The New York Times, the New York Post, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
MORE FROM EPICURIOUS:
Feasts for the Fourth
Celebrate with festive summer recipes and flag-waving fare
The Epicurious Editors' Blog
Food News and Views From All Over
Classic Cookout Entrées
Pulled pork sandwiches, skirt steaks, and more grilled party favorites
Weekly Dinner Planners
A collection of tasty recipes for the busy work week
Epicurious.com's guide to seasonal cooking while the weather's warm