Do you have to like who you vote for?

President Nixon BowlingEver want to go bowling with the President? And if so, which of the current crop of candidates would you want as your bowling partner? Perhaps more importantly, who wouldn’t you want on your bowling team? You can find how Americans answered those questions and more in the first installment of Yahoo! News’ “Political Pulse” Poll. It’s our effort — in partnership with the Associated Press — to break down this election beyond the head-to-head numbers and take a deeper look at what’s actually driving Americans to make their choices for president. What do Americans really care about? Is it the candidate’s looks, policy positions, or some combination?

Over the next 12 months, Yahoo! News will offer eight political polls that examine these questions. We hope to give you a sense for how Americans are feeling about issues like religion, the environment, and even which candidates are considered the best looking? (Clinton, Edwards, and Obama all get the thumbs-up from Democrats. Republicans don’t find the GOP candidates quite so attractive.)

The questions will remain mostly the same for all eight polls and will survey the same 2,000 Americans throughout the campaign stretch so we can see firsthand how their beliefs develop or change. How much will candidates’ “likability” play into who actually gets your final vote? Will the next poll show Republicans know more about Fred Thompson than his role on Law and Order? Stay tuned. The next one is scheduled to drop in early ‘08.

If you’re a political junkie or just like taking polls, input your votes on our interactive poll to see how your views compare to the rest of America.

Ezra Palmer
Managing Editor, Yahoo! News