Americans Choose Obama for Wilderness Safety, Bike Rides

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Though Hillary Clinton hasn’t officially conceded, the wires are still crackling with news and analysis of Barack Obama essentially nabbing the Democratic nomination for president. Through it all, what were the keys to his historic success? His opposition to the Iraq war? His stance on the economy? His constant pleas for change?

Wrong: Barack Obama won the nomination because 1) Americans trust him to lead them out of a thunderstorm in the woods, and 2) he’s a pleasant partner on casual bike rides.

Well, perhaps not entirely, but that’s what you might infer from the results of the recent “The Great Outdoors Survey,” jointly conducted by USA Today’s Open Air Magazine and the public relations firm CGPR (the full results of the questionnaire will appear in their fall issue). They asked the question “You are lost in the woods and a storm is coming, who would you choose to lead you to safety?” Of all respondents polled, 22 percent felt Obama was the best choice, followed by 19 percent for Clinton and 18.5 percent for McCain.

President Bush came in last place with 12.1 percent, a full 4.7 points behind Homer Simpson. I’ve never seen Ol’ Georgie work a topo and a compass, but it can’t be a good sign when people choose to trust the route-finding skills of a fictional character — and a notoriously bumbling, animated one at that — over yours.

When poll respondents were asked who they would rather spend a day-long bike ride with, Obama cleaned up yet again, this time earning 30.2 percent of the vote over Hillary’s 29.2 percent. This time, John McCain fell to the back of the pack, garnering only 13.8 percent support. If elected, the 71-year-old McCain will become the oldest U.S. president ever — certainly not an ideal drafting partner, but a harsh assessment nonetheless. Luckily for him, neither time trials nor sick singletrack skills figure into any of the presidential debates.

But perhaps they should

— Ted Alvarez