WASHINGTON (AP) -- People would rather watch a football game with Barack Obama than with John McCain - but by barely the length of a football.
Obama was the pick over McCain by a narrow 50 percent to 47 percent, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll released Friday that generally mirrored each presidential candidate's strengths and weaknesses with voters. Women, minorities, younger and unmarried people were likelier to prefer catching a game with Obama while men, whites, older and married people would rather watch with McCain.
"I think he'd be fun to sit back with and hear his experiences, all his stories," said Kyle Ferguson, 28, a Republican from Santa Rosa, Calif., who picked McCain. But reflecting a sense some voters have of McCain based on the complaints of a few Senate colleagues, he added warily, "I bet he'd probably get pretty angry and lit up if his team was losing."
Democrat James Smith, 29, of Asheville, N.C., picked Obama because he believes he and the Democratic senator from Illinois have more in common.
"With McCain, I have such an age difference," said Smith of the Arizona senator, who is 72. But with Obama, 47, he said, "If things went well with the conversation, the football game would be forgotten. There'd be a lot of back and forth."
Such views are significant because in many elections, candidates considered more likable have an advantage.
McCain backers were a bit more intrigued by watching with Obama than the Democrat's supporters were with making McCain their football buddy. While fewer than one in 10 Obama backers wanted to watch with McCain, nearly one in five McCain supporters wanted to kick back with Obama.
"He seems intensely focused in a way I'm not sure he does sit down and relax," McCain supporter Lanita Linch, 41, of Harrison, Ark., said of the Republican. She said she'd rather watch with Obama because he seemed like "someone you could be comfortable and at ease with," but cautioned, "If he's not a Cowboys fan, we'd have a problem."
Obama roots for the NFL's Chicago Bears, McCain for the Arizona Cardinals.
With Obama struggling to win over former supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the poll had worrisome news: 35 percent of them would rather watch with McCain, well above the 23 percent figure for all Democrats.
There was also a danger sign for McCain: About three in 10 voters are still undecided or say they may switch candidates. That group leans narrowly toward Obama as their football companion.
The poll of 1,740 adults was conducted Sept. 5-15 and has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. It was conducted over the Internet by Knowledge Networks, which initially contacted people using traditional telephone polling methods and followed with online interviews.
AP Director of Surveys Trevor Tompson and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.