What qualification do voters most want in a president? Military service tops the list

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Military experience tops the list of qualifications voters want to see in presidential candidates. And insider status in Washington? That warrants only a tepid response.

“As the 2016 presidential campaign begins to take shape, Washington experience has become less of a potential asset for those seeking the White House,” reports a new Pew Research Center poll, which asked respondents to rate presidential “traits.” A mere 19 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate with such insider status; 30 percent said they would be less likely to vote for that choice while about half said the experience didn’t matter to them on way or another.

Having military experience has the most voter cachet of all, the survey found there is a big partisan divide here. Among all voters, 43 percent said they would be more likely to vote for someone who had served; the number was 63 percent among Republicans and 29 percent among Democrats.

Experience as a governor came in second among the most desired traits, followed by experience as a business executive and being an evangelical Christian. The religious persuasion, incidentally, outranks “attended a prestigious university” or being female.

The biggest turn off among voters: candidates who are atheists, followed by those who have never held office.

And what about women candidates or older people running for office? There are numbers. There are always numbers.

71 percent of Americans say it “wouldn’t matter” one way or the other to if a presidential candidate were female; 74 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

19 percent say they would be more likely to vote for a female candidate; 10 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats agree.

9 percent say they would be less likely to vote for a female candidate; 15 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

55 percent of Americans overall say it “wouldn’t matter” one way or the other if a presidential candidate was over 70; 61 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

6 percent say they would be more likely to vote for someone over 70; 5 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

36 percent say they would be less likely to vote for them; 32 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats agree.

The Pew Research Centerpoll of 1,501 U.S. adults was conducted April 23-27 and released Wednesday.

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