Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 2:05 AM by Maurice Berger
Americans have confidence in Obama's ability to make good on his promises, according a to new Gallup Poll: "Ensuring that all children have health insurance, doubling
production of alternative energy and reducing health care costs are the
promises Barack Obama have made that most Americans want him to keep . . . There is agreement on the top three across partisan lines although
by different margins. Democrats agree on this top three by even higher
percentages than the overall public. Independents rate them in the top
60s, and Republicans in the low to mid 50s. As to what Americans believe Obama will be able to accomplish,
enacting a big public works program tops the list (80%),
followed by increasing U.S. military strength in Afghanistan (68%), ensuring children have health insurance (62%) and
lifting restrictions on government funding of stem cell research (61%)."
Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger
It looks like President-Elect Obama's inauguration may be the most watched in US history. According to a just released poll by Rasmussen Reports, "75% of U.S. voters say they plan to watch at least some
of Barack Obama's inauguration live next week, including 28% who plan to watch
it all, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone
survey. 21% say they will not watch any of the
presidential swearing-in ceremony and the activities surrounding it on January
20, and 3% aren't sure."
Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger
A Gallup/USA Today survey conducted January 9-11 2009 suggests that most Americans expect an extraordinary inauguration speech tomorrow from Barack Obama: "Americans
have set a high bar for Obama on his inauguration speech. 56% expect it to be excellent and another 30% expect it to
be good. 55% percent had expected George Bush's inaugural to be
excellent or good when he took the oath for a second term in 2005." Even more extraodinary are Americans expectations for the Obama presidency: 62% believe Obama will be an outstanding or above-average
President, 25% say he will be average and 11% say he will
be below average or poor. Obama himself fares better than his
cabinet-level appointees. 45% say they are outstanding
or above average and 38% say they are average."
Posted Jan 16, 2009 at 2:20 AM by Maurice Berger
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reports that with less than a week before taking office, President-Elect Obama enjoys exceptionally marks on his handling of the transition, with 71% of respondents approving: "On a series of measures -- from being seen as easygoing and likable to being
perceived as a good commander-in-chief -- Mr. Obama rated higher than President
George W. Bush or former President Bill Clinton did shortly before they took
Posted Jan 14, 2009 at 6:27 AM by Maurice Berger
In what may well be a problem for the incoming Obama administration and the new Democratic Congress, voters by a statistically significant margin trust Republicans more on matters of national security. According to a just released poll, Republicans hold the biggest lead over Democrats on the
issue of national security since early September: 48% of voters trust the GOP more to handle
national security and the War on Terror, while only 40% trust Democrats more. In December, the GOP held just a four-point lead on the issue.
Trust in the Republicans hasn’t been this high since September 6, when they led the Democrats 50% to 40% on the
issue." Unaffiliated voters give Republicans a staggering edge on handle national security--51% to 31%.
Posted Jan 12, 2009 at 6:27 PM by Maurice Berger
Overall, Americans appear to be happier with the state of US foreign policy--and the state of the world itself--than with the present-day economic situation. American perceptions about the Iraq, for example, improved dramatically in 2008. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken this summer reported that "nearly half of Americans say the U.S. troop surge in Iraq made the situation there better, up from 40% in February and just 22% a year ago. Accordingly, the percentage believing the surge 'is not making much difference' has declined from 51% a year ago, and 38% in February, to just 32%." In late summer, Americans were split down the middle on the issue of whether the United States should set an explicit timetable or target date for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq -- "when it is made clear that withdrawal is a given in either circumstance." Americans view the Arab-Israeli conflict with surprising optimism (despite the recent confligration in Gaza): "52% now believe it is possible for Israel and the Palestinians to live in peace, but just 35% think Obama is likely to help end the conflict during his presidency. Only 12% say Obama is Very Likely to help bring the two sides together, while 23% say it is not at likely." As for Americans view of terrorism: despite warnings of a possible attack during the early months of the new administration, a poll this fall found that "while a new bipartisan report concludes that the United States remains 'dangerously vulnerable' to terrorist attacks, most Americans do not fear being directly affected. Only 38% are very or somewhat worried that they or a family member will become a victim of terrorism. This is down from 47% last July, and from a high of 59% in October 2001, but is still short of a post-9/11 low of 28% in January 2004."
Posted Jan 11, 2009 at 7:34 PM by Maurice Berger
One important factor in an incoming president's foreign policy and defense profile is his relationship to the military. Some presidents have assumed office with strong backing from military personal and leaders (Ronald Regan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush). Others have had a more difficult time, most notably Bill Clinton, especially after his attempt (in the first days of his new administration) to allow gays to serve the the military, through the still controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. It looks like service members view president-elect Obama as a negative rather than positive force according to a Military Times poll of active-duty
service members. Six out of 10 respondents say they are uncertain or pessimistic about
Obama as commander in chief, , according to a Military
Times survey: "In follow-up interviews, respondents expressed concerns about
Obama’s lack of military service and experience leading men and women in
uniform. . . . Underlying much of the uncertainty is Obama’s stated 16-month
timetable for pulling combat troops out of Iraq, as well as his calls to end the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' policy to allow gays to serve openly in the military,
according to survey responses and interviews. Most active service members still
trust George W. Bush more than the incoming president: When asked who has their
best interests at heart — Obama or Bush — a higher percentage of respondents
picked Bush, though Bush has lost ground over time. About half of the
respondents said Bush has their best interests at heart this year, the same
percentage as last year but a decline from 69 percent in 2004." Obama's support
increases significantly among African-American service members--eight out of 10
said they are optimistic about their incoming boss. One important caveat: The
responses are unrepresentative of the the military as a whole, undercounting
minorities, women and junior enlisted service members. Still, these numbers suggest that Obama may have a bumpy road ahead in his role as commander in chief.
Posted Jan 08, 2009 at 5:52 PM by Maurice Berger
In what may be a plus (but also potentially a hindrance), Barack Obama begins his presidency with an exceptionally high approval rating--now hovering around 70%. Even more remarkable, according to a recent national poll of adults, 32% of Americans choose Barack Obama as the "man they most
admire living anywhere in the world today, putting him in the No. 1
position on Gallup's annual Most Admired Man list." To put Obama's standing in perspective: Obama is the first president-elect since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to
top the list. And he has done it with a runaway high figure. For
comparison, as president-elect in December 2000, George W. Bush was
mentioned by just 5% of Americans, ranking him fourth. In December
1992, president-elect Bill Clinton ranked second behind outgoing
president George H.W. Bush, with 15%. And in 1988, then president-elect
Bush achieved third place, with 9%." Almost as important for the incoming administration: Hillary Clinton
earns the top spot for Most Admired Woman, named by 20%." Clinton's numbers are significant given the highly public and important role she will play in the White House. Obama's numbers suggests that the president-elect is coming into office with a good deal of political capital--an electorate that both admires and respects him. Indeed, a recent CNN/Opinion Research survey reported that 76% of Americans believe Obama is a strong and
decisive leader. (By contrast, just 60% of voters felt the same way about George W. Bush when he took office in 2001.) "That's the best number an incoming president
has gotten on that dimension since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981,"
CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The public's rating of his
leadership skills is already as high as George W. Bush's was after 9/11
and easily beats the numbers that both Bush and Bill Clinton got at the
start of their first terms in office." And what do Americans expect Obama to actually achieve. According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey, it's quite a bit: 70% of Americans expect Obama to improve the U.S. image
abroad; 68% expect him to bring about health care reform; 67% say he will implement policies to deal with global warming; 64% believe he will end U.S. involvement in Iraq; and 46% percent
believe he will improve the economy." The the issue of the economy
is significant in this poll, out because it is the only one of these goals in which a
majority (52%) don't believe Obama will succeed. In the end, high hopes sometimes lead to dashed expectations if the public perceives a new president's initiatives as failed, problematic, or counterproductive. PollTrack will closely watch these numbers over the next few months to see if this extraidinary public goodwill continues and flourishes.
Posted Jan 07, 2009 at 5:59 PM by Maurice Berger
Will president-elect Obama make good on his promise to end partisan bickering in Washington? The answer may well determine the relative success or failure of his new iniatives, especially his effort to pass a comprehensive economic stimulous package. With little less than two weeks to go until the new president takes office, recent opinion polls suggest that Obama has made remarkable inroads with self-described "conservative" Americans: "The extent to which Barack Obama is experiencing a post-election wave
of good will from Americans is born out by his base of supprt among these espondents: "close to half of political
conservatives -- 45% -- say they are confident in Obama's ability to be a
good president. About the same percentage (46%) disagree." The 45% who say they are
confident in Obama contrasts with the
mere 23% of this group who supported him over John McCain in the
election. In the end, "this relatively strong endorsement from conservatives boosts overall
confidence in Obama well beyond the 53% of the national vote he
received on Election Day." Overall, upawards of 65% to 70% of Americans now say they are
confident Obama will be a good president, while only 27% are not
confident and 8% are unsure. PollTrack suggests that the higher Obama's approval numbers with conservatives (and Republican voters of all stripes), the easier it may be for him to garner cross-over support in congress for a range of initiatives. This support may well tunr out to be the political cover right-of-center politicians will need to support Obama's programs.
Posted Jan 06, 2009 at 5:44 PM by Maurice Berger
With just a few weeks until Obama's inauguration, Americans remain worried and cautious about the state of energy and the nation's dependence on gasoline and other fossil fules. Nearly two in three Americans (64%)--according to a recent Gallup survey--report adjusting their driving
habits in significant ways in response to surging gas prices earlier
this year, but only 12% have reverted to their old habits as prices at
the pump have plunged. Even as the price of a gallon of gas has fallen
below $2 in most areas, 52% of Americans say they have not gone back to
their old driving habits." These numbers suggest that Americans are reacting not only to the gravity of the energy crisis, but also are anxious about the economy and the effect of high energy and oil prices on their pocketbooks. As Gallup concludes: "the plunge in gas prices is similar to distributing a huge tax rebate
by how much individuals drive. Like the tax rebate from earlier this
year, lower-income Americans tend to be most likely to spend the
rebate, but all Americans are likely to save a large portion
of any tax rebate. In part, it may be that most Americans have not gone
back to their old driving habits for fear that pump prices will surge
once more in the future. Just as likely, however, particularly for
upper-income Americans, returning to old driving habits may be a lot
like spending money -- something left for better times." It will be interesting to see the public response to energy use if oil prices begin to climb, the response of the White House and Congress, and the effect of both on the public's accessment of the Obama administration in the coming year.
Posted Jan 05, 2009 at 10:42 PM by Maurice Berger
Over the next week, PollTrack will publish a daily, six-part series--Obama's
America: The State Of The Nation--that will examine public opinion and the attitudes of American voters about a
range of issues facing the new president, from the economy and energy to voter
expectations about the new administration. Collectively the series will offer a comprehensive look at the state of
the nation through public opinion on the ground as Obama takes office. Today's
topic: The Economy. Public reaction and response to the economic crisis has been
mixed in recent weeks. For one, voters remain pessimistic about the economy:
Nationally, only 9% of adults rate the economy as either good or excellent. 61%
disagree and say the economy is in poor condition. Voters tend to support
president-elect Obama's proposal for a comprehensive and massive stilumlous
package: 56% of respondents say they favor the stimulus package that
President-elect Barack Obama is proposing; 42% were opposed.The poll concludes:
"Two-thirds of the public thinks the stimulus package will do just that, with
17% saying it will help the economy a lot and another 50% feeling that it will
help the economy somewhat. 21% percent say the stimulus package won't help the
economy very much and 10% say it won't help at all." Yet, the recent economic
crisis had led led "mixed feelings" about government intervention: 70% of
respondents say a free market is better than one managed by the government. Just
15% prefer a government-managed economy. 15% remain undecided. Still, a majority
of voters--a healthy 52%--also believe there is a need for more government
regulation of big business, although 35% disagree. 13% are unsure. These numbers suggest a highly vulnerable electorate, uncertain of the best way to handle the present economic crisis, unsure of how much government can do, but generally confident in the new president's ability to handle the situation.
Posted Jan 05, 2009 at 12:53 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a new Gallup poll, liberal Democrats remain confident in president-elect Obama: support for Obama among liberal
Democrats is holding steady at 93% "despite news reports that his core
supporters are disappointed with some of his cabinet appointments and
other decisions. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Obama's ratings have
improved among conservative Republicans, up from 23% to 29% . . . Now, a slim majority of moderate and liberal Republicans, 51%, say they
are confident Obama will be a good president, up from 44% in November.
Conservative Republicans remain largely skeptical of Obama's abilities,
but in recent weeks his stock has risen slightly among this group, from
23% to 29%."
Posted Jan 02, 2009 at 4:06 PM by Maurice Berger
Starting next Tuesday, PollTrack will publish a daily, six-part series--Obama's
America: The State Of The Nation--that will examine public opinion and the attitudes of American voters about a
range of issues facing the new president, from the economy and energy to voter
expectations about the new administration. Collectively the series will offer a comprehensive look at the state of
the nation through public opinion on the ground as Obama takes office.
Posted Jan 02, 2009 at 3:23 AM by Maurice Berger
Americans remain optimistic about 2009, but still fear the effects of a recession most believe will be long-term. According to a new poll, Americans have a bit more confidence in 2009 than in the year
that just passed, but 50% of adults believe the country will still be in a
recession this time next year. 24% say 2008 was a good or excellent
year, and 3% say it was the best year ever . . . 38% rate
2008 as poor. 32% expect 2009 to be good or excellent,
with 5% more predicting it will be the best ever. 23% say it’s going to be a poor year." By contrast, a year ago 54% rated 2007 as either good, excellent or one of the best years
ever for them personally. Only 20% gave it poor marks. 68% expected 2008 to be excellent, good
or the best, with just 7% predicting poor.
Posted Dec 31, 2008 at 12:53 AM by Maurice Berger
Are Americans getting a bit more optimistic about the ailing economy during this holiday seasn. A new Rasmusen Consumer Index survey suggests that consumers are less anxious than they were even a week or two ago: The Consumer Index, which measures the "economic
confidence of consumers on a daily basis, rose a point on Monday to 61.9, its
highest reading since December 12. Today's index is up two points from last
week, but is down two points from the first reading of the month." Any improvement in Americans perception of the economy will be helpful to presisdent-elect Obama, whose first priority is to restore confidence in a public (and business community) that as grown increasingly pessimistic about the future.
Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 1:57 AM by Maurice Berger
American voters have mixed feelings about government's role in managing the economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey. 70% of respondents say a free market is better than one managed by the government. Just 15% prefer a government-managed economy. 15% remain undecided. But as Rasmussen notes, the recent economic crisis had led led "mixed feelings" about government intervention: a majority of voters--a healthy 52%--also believe there is a
need for more government regulation of big business, although 35%
disagree. 13% are unsure.The survey concludes that voters overall "are more ambivalent about the federal government’s role in the current economic crisis. 48% worry the government will do too much, while
41% fear it will do too little. 11% are not sure which
is a greater concern. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of voters agree, however, that
government and big business often work together in ways that hurt
consumers and investors. Only 15% of voters don’t believe that is true,
and 20% are undecided." This ambivalence suggests a very tricky political landscape for the incoming president who must balance the need for federal regulation with broadly held views about American capitalism and economic freedom and self-determination.
Posted Dec 28, 2008 at 5:25 PM by Maurice Berger
According to a new CNN/Opinion Research survey, 56% of respondents say they favor the stimulus package that
President-elect Barack Obama is proposing; 42% were opposed.The poll concludes: "Two-thirds of the public thinks the
stimulus package will do just that, with 17% saying it will help
the economy a lot and another 50% feeling that it will help the
economy somewhat. 21% percent say the stimulus package won't
help the economy very much and 10% say it won't help at all. Yet, respondents appear to be split on the issue of government
regulation of business and industry, with "39% saying there's too
much government regulation and an equal amount saying too little.
20% said the amount of government involvement is just right."
Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 1:43 AM by Maurice Berger
A new national poll reports that nearly half of U.S. voters (49%) "oppose President Bush’s
decision to extend $17.4 billion in emergency taxpayer-backed loans to the
failing U.S. auto industry, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national
telephone survey. 38% are in favor of the president’s
decision, which he announced Friday, while 13% are undecided. The day before,
Bush acknowledged that he has been forced to turn his back on many of the
free-market principles he believes in because of the severity of the country’s
economic situation." President-elect Obama also supports the auto bailout.
Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 7:05 AM by Maurice Berger
A new CNN/Opinion Research survey indicates Americans are split on whether aides to
President-elect Barack Obama did something inappropriate in their contacts with
embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich: 12% of those questioned say Obama aides did something illegal, with another 36%
feeling Obama aides didn't act illegally but did do something unethical.43% say no Obama aides did anything seriously wrong."
Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 1:03 AM by Maurice Berger
According to the new Rasmussen Reports Presidential Approval Index 41% of the nation’s
voters now Strongly Approve of the way Barack Obama handling the role of President-elect while 16% Strongly Disapprove.These numbers suggest a stability in public perceptions of the new president. The number who strongly approve of Obama’s performance has
changed little since the election. "The number who Strongly Disapprove, however,
has fallen in half—from 32% immediately after the election to 16% today." As PollTrack has noted before, Obama's approval rating is one of the highest for an incoming president. Indeed, a just released ABC News/Washington Post survey indicates that voter expectations for the president-elect are riding extremely high: "77% believe he’ll be able to improve the United States’ image abroad, and 64% to 68% think he’ll be able to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, implement global warming policies and make significant improvements in the health care system." Yet, as the survey's authors note, there may be a down side to such high expectations: "The danger to Obama is that unmet expectations can produce a negative response. At the same time, expectations are highest among his core supporters, Democrats, who are less likely to turn against him. Republicans are far more skeptical."
Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 6:56 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a new Marist poll of registered voters
, Americans are very
impressed with president-elect Obama and his transition: "A considerable majority of registered voters in the
United States are giving President-elect Barack Obama high marks for the job
he’s doing during his transition into office. 63% say they approve
of his performance while just 10% of voters disapprove. 27% are on
the fence, reporting they are unsure about how the president-elect is
doing. In the wake of this year’s bitter campaign battle,
prominent partisan differences linger. 86% of Democrats approve of
President-elect Obama’s job performance. 36% of Republicans agree
while a large proportion of the GOP -- 42% -- is unsure about how the future
president is doing. Independent voters align with the
Democrats. 61% give President-elect Obama a thumbs-up for how he
is handling the transition period." Additionally, the Democrat exceeds the
expectations of many Americans: '83% of
registered voters in the United States say the president-elect is doing better
than or about what they expected him to do during the transition. This includes 56% who say Obama is meeting their expectations, and 27%
who feel Obama is doing better than they anticipated. Democrats
are more likely than other voters to think the President-elect Obama is doing
better than they thought he would." These numbers are by-and-large extraordinary
for an in-coming president.
Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 1:18 AM by Maurice Berger
Voter concerns about the econony are as high as they've been in three decades, since the fiscal meltdown of the mid-1970s. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post survey, "job insecurity is its worst in 33 years of polls; holiday spending plans, their worst in data back 23 years. Americans report cuts in work hours and pay, and concerns about making the rent or mortgage, heating the house, paying for retirement. In all it’s an extraordinary loss of confidence – with repercussions in families across economic and political lines. . . 63% now think the country is in a 'long-term economic decline,' up from 49% 10 months ago; just a third say the economic system is still “basically pretty solid.” And while economic distress tends to be greatest among lower-income Americans, the biggest increase in views of a long-term decline has been among the better-off, hammered by the stock market." In a separate barometer of the nation's economic health, Separately, the weekly ABC News Consumer Comfort Index is in "the midst of its worst stretch since it began 23 years ago: Just 7% of Americans say the economy’s in
good shape, 22% call it a good time to spend money and fewer than half, 44%, rate their personal finances positively."
Posted Dec 17, 2008 at 5:17 AM by Maurice Berger
PollTrack has just come off a very successful campaign season, tracking the most
exciting presidential election in a generation (along with more than 20 US
Senate races). With more than 220,000 visitors in the first two-and-half months
of our launch we had visitors from every state in the union and 108 nations. One
feature of the site, VOICES ON THE GROUND, invited contributions from
artists, writers, observers, scholars, students, and others who helped us track
the election from the perspective of where it mattered the most: with voters on
As we approach the inauguration of President-Elect Obama, VOICES launches The Obama Project--an online forum for
commentary, analysis, poetry, photographs, and YouTube content that
explores the following questions: What Does The Election of Barack Obama
Mean To You? And What Does it Mean for The Nation?
We ask you to submit texts (from a single line to 2,000 words),
photographs, or content you've posted on YouTube. We will be uploading
content on an ongoing basis through the inauguration and beyond. You are
also welcome to submit materials that relate to Election 2008 but do not fall
within the purview of The Obama Project.
To submit texts or images, go to the "Participate" tab on the yellow tool bar in the lower right of the VOICES page.
You may also send texts (and photo attachments) directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. However you submit materials, PLEASE: include your full
name and your city and state or location (if outside the US)
We very much look forward to hearing your voices on PollTrack.
Posted Dec 17, 2008 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger
While voters are generally optimistic about the future of Iraq--and the relative success of the US military involvement in the nation--they are growing increasingly eager to see the US withdraw from the conflagration. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reports: 56% rate the US military "surge" a success, agreeing that the United States is making "'significant progress' restoring civil order in Iraq, up from 40% in April. (The rest may be reflecting on the ongoing, if less numerous, car-bomb attacks there.) Even more, 65%, are now optimistic about Iraq’s prospects in the year ahead, up 19 points from last year to a new high since 2004. Some of that stems from better ratings of security there; some, instead, from greater optimism among Democrats and Democratic-leaning
independents encouraged by Barack Obama’s election. In any case it’s in the broader analysis, beyond the situation on the ground – the cost in lives and dollars vs. perceived benefits – that nearly two-thirds continue to call the war not worth fighting. And as that view is unchanged, so is its intensity: Fifty percent feel 'strongly' that the Iraq war was not worth it. Fewer than half as many, 21%, strongly feel the opposite – tying the all-time low in strong support for the war. Such views put some heat on Obama; not only do 70% say he should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, but, among many high expectations for the incoming president, 64% think in fact he will end the U.S. involvement there."
Posted Dec 16, 2008 at 5:13 AM by Maurice Berger
If voters in Illinois are willing to give the Obama team the benefit of the dount vis-a-vis the Blagojevich scandal, nationally the president-elect is not doing as well. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll of registered voters, 45% "say it is likely
President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the
unfolding Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, including 23% who say it is Very
Likely. Just 11% say it is not at all likely, according to a new
Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Thursday and Friday nights." A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reports that a "tepid 51% say Obama’s
done enough to explain any discussions his representatives may have had
with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who’s accused of seeking bribes in his
selection of Obama’s successor. The rest either say Obama’s not done
enough (34%) or are unsure (14% more)."
Posted Dec 16, 2008 at 1:13 AM by Maurice Berger
The voters of President-Elect Obama's homestate of Illinois remain uncertain about his relationship to embattled Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich: According to a new statewide survey of registered voters, 32% say there is no way that the incoming president was involved in the Blagojevich corruption case, even as
questions mount over whether an Obama adviser discussed the president-elect’s
vacant Senate seat with the Illinois governor or his staff. "Only 13% say it is Very Likely that the president-elect was
involved, with another 13% saying it is Somewhat Likely, according to a
Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Illinois voters on Wednesday night. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say it’s Not Very Likely, with six
percent (6%) undecided."
Posted Dec 15, 2008 at 4:47 AM by Maurice Berger
Despite record high approval ratings for President-Elect Obama, party members are growing increasingly pessimistic about the nation's future. According to a new Rasmussen survey, "just 22% of Democrats now say the nation is heading
in the right direction, down from an average of 27% for the full month of
November." The poll also found that just 15% of Republicans and 13% of unaffiliated voters say the nation is
heading in the right direction. Overall, a staggering 79% of Republicans, 69%
of Democrats and 80% of unaffiliated voters now say America is heading down the
Posted Dec 15, 2008 at 2:17 AM by Maurice Berger
Despite the withering economy and a scandal brewing in Illinois, voters continue to give very high markes to the transition of President-Elect Obama. Voter confidence in the incoming president hovers near seventy percent--69% expressing confidence, 23% disagreeing according to the latest Gallaup poll. Rasmussen adds an additional level of qualification, now reporting that 43% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way Barack Obama is
handling the role of President-elect while 16% Strongly Disapprove. Overall, 67% of voters somewhat or strongly approve of Obama’s performance so
far while 30% disapprove, results similar to Gallup but with a slight uptick in voters who disaaprove of the new president.
Posted Dec 12, 2008 at 5:11 AM by Maurice Berger
Despite the support of president-elect Obama and the current president, George W. Bush--and passage by the US House of Representatives--registered voters remain wary of the auto-industry bailout, according to a new Marist Poll: "With action on the legislation expected in the U.S. Senate as early as today, 48% of U.S. residents nationwide disapprove of Congress providing federal loans to the automakers while 41% approve of the federal assistance. Looking at registered voters in the United States, the numbers are similar. 48% of registered voters nationwide disapprove of the plan compared with 43% who support the action. There is a partisan divide on the issue. A majority of Democrats -- 53% -- approve of the measure while a majority of Republicans -- 61% -- disapprove of the plan. Independents are more in line with Republicans. 51% of these voters disapprove of providing federal loans to automakers compared with 40% who approve of the idea." Indeed, this divide is reflected in the Senate's inability to piece together a coalition in support of the bill.
Posted Dec 11, 2008 at 8:54 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, president-elect Barack Obama is enjoying unprecidented popularity during his transition: "Obama is enjoying a bigger honeymoon than his recent predecessors ever did. Just
consider these numbers in the latest NBC/WSJ poll: 67% say they're pleased with
Obama's early appointments, 75% believe that the level of his involvement in
making policy has been exactly right, and his fav/unfav rating is 67%-16%. By
comparison, a month after their initial presidential victories, Bush's rating
was 48%-35% and Clinton's was 60%-19%. These scores -- combined with the fact
that nearly 80% believe Obama will face bigger challenges than other recent
presidents have, and 90% who say the nation's economy has gotten worse over the
past 12 months -- seem to have given Obama some leeway with the American public.
"We're seeing a president who has been given a longer leash by the American
public," says NBC/WSJ co-pollster Bill McInturff (R). 'This is not a traditional
start of a presidency where people give you just a couple of months.'"
Posted Dec 11, 2008 at 12:56 AM by Maurice Berger
Some voters are "proud" of Obama's historuc victory; others are "afraid." But overall, Americans remain optimistic about the president-elect, according to a new survey by the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg: "Americans are hopeful, optimistic and proud of Barack Obama winning the most historic presidential election this country has seen, according to a new Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll. About three-quarters of all Americans have mentioned a positive adjective in describing their feeling about Obama winning the election. Although it is a small sample of blacks, more than two out of five of all blacks said they were proud, while whites are more evenly split between hopeful and optimistic. Just 8% of whites said proud. Interestingly, 29% of Republicans and 31% of conservative Republicans said they are afraid of an Obama administration (perhaps still feeling animosity after the brutal negative campaigning against Obama). Yet, there is a reservoir of good will surrounding him and the team he is assembling, although many think he won’t be able to fulfill all of his campaign promises."
Posted Dec 09, 2008 at 4:07 AM by Maurice Berger
With the kind of approval rating usually recorded for a president as the nation rallies behind him in a natuural disaster or terorist attack, president-elect Barack Obama is riding high in the polls. A new CNN/Opinion Research survey reports: "79% approve of Obama's performance so far
during transition, with 18% disapproving. Obama's approval rating is 14 points higher than the
approval rating for President-elect George Bush in 2001 and 17 points higher
than President-elect Clinton's rating in 1992, CNN Polling Director Keating
Holland said. Obama's current approval rating is also more than 50 points
higher than President Bush's current approval rating, which now stands at 28
percent --- with 71 percent disapproving of the way Bush is handling his job as
Posted Dec 09, 2008 at 2:16 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, a hefty majority of Americans fear a terror attack during the first year of Obama's presidemcy. (Indeed, major terror attacks on US soil occured in 1993 and 2001, during the first year of the Clinton and Bush administrations respectively.) The breakdown id as follows: "59% say a terrorist
attack in the United States like the one last week in India is at least somewhat
likely in the next year. 23% say it is Very Likely. Just 5% say such an attack is not at all
likely to occur here in the next 12 months."
Posted Dec 08, 2008 at 5:39 AM by Maurice Berger
The election of Barack Obama as the nation's first black president has had one immediate effect on the attitudes of African-American voters according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey: "38% of black voters believe the
nation is heading in the right direction, while just 16% of white voters agree. Rasmussen Reports national telephone surveys found that 53%
of black voters say America is headed down the wrong track, along with 77% of
white voters." this represents an increase in black voter's optimism from pre-election numbers, one that can be ascribed to Obama's historic victory: "During the week prior to Election Day, just 10% of black
voters said America was heading in the right direction . . . confidence about the nation’s
future bounced among black voters the week after Election Day, when 40% said the nation was moving in the right direction . . . just 19% of whites agreed at that time."
Posted Dec 05, 2008 at 5:08 AM by Maurice Berger
Who will replace Barack Obama as Illinois' Juinior Senator? The task will be left to Rod Blagojevich, Illinois’ Democratic governor whose own approval numbers remain among the lowest of state chief executives in the country. According to a new survey of Illinois voters, "Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. is the clear favorite . . . . among the party’s top five candidates to succeed Barack Obama as the
state’s junior U.S. senator." Rasmussen Reports hancaps the hypothetical race as follows: Jackson, a "Chicago congressman who has been openly campaigning for
the job has the support of 36% of Illinois Democrats . . . Tammy Duckworth, director of Illinois’ Department of Veterans
Affairs, is next with the backing of 29%, followed by state Attorney General
Lisa Madigan with 17%. Another congressman mentioned for the post, Rep. Jan
Schakowksy, has eight percent (8%) support, with Emil Jones, president of the
Illinois Senate, at two percent (2%). Just seven percent (7%) of Democrats are
not sure which candidate they prefer." Blagojevich has promised to appoint Obama’s successor during the Christmas holidays.
Posted Dec 05, 2008 at 1:25 AM by Maurice Berger
ABC News reports that the final fundraising figures for Election 2008 are staggering and historic: "President-elect Obama campaign raised roughly $745 million for his 2008 presidential campaign. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised roughly $320 million, including
the $84 million from entering into the public financing system." ABC News reports that this total excludes funds from the Democratic and Republican National Committees: "When those numbers
are taken into account, we expect the Democrats to have raised closer
to one billion dollars, compared to roughly $630 million for the
Republicans. Which means the President-elect had, roughly, a $400 million advantage."
Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 4:12 AM by Maurice Berger
American voters like what they're seeing with regard to President-Elect Obama's transition efforts. According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, Obama gets soaring marks for his handling of the
transition and his choices for the Cabinet . . . even
at a time the public is downbeat over the economy. More than three of four Americans, including a majority of
Republicans, approve of the job Obama has done so far — broad-based support
he'll need as he faces tough decisions ahead." The public also has a very positive opinion of the new president's cabinet appointments--by 69%-25%, they approve of his pick of New York
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary
of State; by an even wider margin, 80%-14%, they approve of his decision
to reappoint President Bush's Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 2:01 AM by Maurice Berger
A new poll out from Rasmussen reports that a majority of voters are confident that Obama--and his economic team--can solve the nation's economic woes: "55% of Americans are at least somewhat
confident that Barack Obama's economic team can
lead the country out of its current economic problems. 25%
are very confident. Only 13% are not at all confident in the new team, and 5% are undecided." Interestingly, investors are less enthusiastic about the Obama economic team, with 48% somewhat confident in the president-elect’s choices, including 20% who
are very confident. 63% of non-investors are somewhar confident, while 32% are very confident. 16% of investors are not at all
confident in the new economic team, compared to 10% of non-investors.
Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 4:22 AM by Maurice Berger
While Obama was able to count on an increase in intensity of support and turnout among African-American, Hispanic, and young voters, his victory was not built on a surge of voters (as his campaign had hoped). According to Bloomberg News: The Democrats "bet on an unprecedented surge of new voters to carry him to victory last
month . . . but [Obama] won without the record turnout . . . About 130 million
Americans voted, up from 122 million four years ago. Still, turnout fell short
of the 140 million voters many experts had forecast. With a little more than 61
percent of eligible voters casting ballots, the 2008 results also didn't match
the record 63.8 percent turnout rate that helped propel President John F.
Kennedy to victory in 1960."The reasons for this shortfall were complex and varied: "Many disaffected Republicans stayed home. Young voters, particularly those
without college degrees, didn’t turn out in the numbers that the Obama campaign
projected. In states where the presidential race wasn’t in doubt -- such as
Obama strongholds in California and New York, or reliably Republican outposts
such as Oklahoma and Utah -- turnout was lower than in 2004."
Posted Dec 01, 2008 at 5:03 AM by Maurice Berger
A just published Bloomberg News analysis examines the subject of race and whether the racial breakdown of election 2008 represented a new Democrat-tilting realignment. His conclusion: the republicans may be in trouble, yet if the racial and generational composition on Nov. 4 had
been identical to four years ago, John McCain may well have won: "A deeper look at the changing shape of the electorate
suggests more fundamental problems for Republicans. Their core
constituencies are shrinking, and the wedge issues that used to
plague Democrats are now more divisive for Republicans. . . . Non-whites comprised 26 percent of the electorate, up from
23 percent in 2004. Obama carried 80 percent of these voters.
African-Americans turned out in record numbers, and almost all
of them voted for the first black president. Republicans once hoped to score well among Hispanics, the
fastest-growing slice of the population. They were 9 percent of
the electorate last month, with almost three times as many
Latino voters as just 16 years ago. Obama carried Hispanics, 67 percent to 31 percent,
according to exit polls. That gave him a cushion in heavily
Hispanic-populated states like New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado
-- all of which were in the Republican column four years before
-- and in places like Iowa and North Carolina, which have
growing Latino populations."
Posted Dec 01, 2008 at 1:35 AM by Maurice Berger
A new Rasmussen Reports survey suggests that President-Elect Obama is in a very strong honeymoon phase with voters: "42% of the nation’s voters now strongly approve of the way Obama is performing his role as President-elect while 19% Strongly
Disapprove. Overall, 63% of voters somewhat or
strongly approve of Obama’s performance so far while 34% disapprove." These numbers compare very favorably with recent presidents.
Posted Nov 28, 2008 at 3:44 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a just released survey Rasmussen Reports, most Americans see President-Elect Barack Obama as politically "liberal": "68% of American voters see [Obama] as politically
liberal, including 41% who say he is very liberal. The latest Rasmussen Reports
national telephone survey found that just 24% say the President-elect is
politically moderate while 4% see him as conservative. These results are little changed from the fall campaign, despite the
fact that some on the political left see Obama's early appointments tilting to the right."
Posted Nov 28, 2008 at 1:52 AM by Maurice Berger
A post-election analysis by Associated Press/Yahoo reports that voters often wavered in the choice for president, flip-flopping from Obama to McCain and vice versa a number of times throughout the 2008 campaign: "Inch by inch, voter by voter, Barack Obama and
John McCain labored for more than a year to lock down supporters and
woo defectors. It turns out, though, that the nation's voters were a
lot more fickle than commonly expected, and far more prone to switch
allegiances. An Associated Press-Yahoo News
poll that tracked the same group of about 2,000 adults throughout the
long campaign reveals a lively churning beneath the surface as people
shifted their loyalties - some more than once. Over
the long haul, 17% of those who eventually voted for Obama had
expressed support for McCain at least once in a series of 10 AP-Yahoo
News polls conducted since November 2007, before the party primaries
began. And 11 percent of McCain's eventual supporters had backed Obama
at least once . . . Election polls that showed only gradual shifts in support for Obama and
McCain were masking a much more volatile electorate. Few voters made
unwavering, long-term commitments to either candidate . . . Just 28
percent of those saying they voted for Democrat Obama, and 27 percent
saying they backed Republican McCain on Election Day, said they would
vote for that party's candidate in all 10 AP-Yahoo News polls."
Posted Nov 26, 2008 at 4:40 AM by Maurice Berger
Despite relatively high marks for the Obama transition effort, American voters remain pessimistic about the new president's ability to manage the economy. As a new ABC News survey reports: "Expectations of Obama’s economic performance are highly partisan. Just 16% of Republicans expect him to be able to accomplish a 'great deal' or 'good amount' to improve the economy, essentially unchanged from election eve. At the same time, that expectation has declined among Democrats and independents alike (by 9 and 10 points, respectively), suggesting a more sober post-election assessment in these groups. Obama himself, in introducing his economic team today, pledged fast work
but also said the economy 'is likely to get worse before it gets better.'” The ABC News analysis continues: "Given the larger forces at work, relatively few Americans, 24 percent overall, expect the incoming president to be able to do 'a great deal' to improve the economy. That’s even though it was the single most dominant issue of the campaign, and Obama’s ability to connect with the public’s economic concerns that lifted him to his Nov. 4 victory."
Posted Nov 26, 2008 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger
One thing is certain about Election 2008: if Obama had depended on white voters for victory, McCain would now be president. Indeed, the Democrat did no better than most presidential candidates of his party with white voters. The final racial breakdown of the election is sobering: among white voters, McCain received a whopping 55% of the vote, Obama did not better than 43%. An important article in the Miami Herald, puts Obama victory in perspective: he won because many white people stayed home and minorities voted in record numbers for the Democrat: "Barack Obama's 8.5 million-vote margin over John McCain was fueled by a more
than 20 percent surge in minority voting, a new analysis of exit polling data
suggests. While Obama won a lopsided number of electoral votes, his popular-vote margin
was increased by an outpouring of minority balloting as the number of whites who
cast ballots declined overall. The analysis estimated that about 5.8 million more minorities voted in this
year's presidential election than in 2004 while nearly 1.2 million fewer whites
went to the polls. Separate opinion polls and election results themselves indicate that an
overwhelming majority of African-Americans and Latinos backed Obama . . . Based on exit polling data, Project Vote estimated that the nationwide
African-American vote rose by 2.88 million, to 16.3 million, accounting for 13
percent of the ballots compared with 11 percent in 2004. The Latino turnout
increased by 1.5 million to 11.3 million, accounting for 9 percent of the total
ballots, up from 8 percent, the group said." For the full article click here.
Posted Nov 25, 2008 at 3:01 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a recently published analysis of Election 2008,
some of the credit for Obama's victory should go to the newest generation of
young voters. Aided (and prodded) by new technologies of communications--from
cell phones and computers to text messaging--and aligned into an active
political community by social networks such as MySpace and FaceBook, young
voters are helping to alter the content and processes of American politics.
As Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais write: "Senator Barack
Obama’s success in the 2008 presidential campaign marks more than an historical
turning point in American politics. It also signals the beginning of a new era
for American society, one dominated by the attitudes and behaviors of the
largest generation in American history. Millennials, born between 1982 and 2003,
now comprise almost one-third of the U.S. population and without their
overwhelming support for his candidacy, Barack Obama would not have been able to
win his party’s nomination, let alone been elected President of the United
States. This new, “civic” generation is dramatically different than the boomers
who have dominated our society since the 1960s and understanding this shift is
critical to comprehending the changes that America will experience over the next
Posted Nov 25, 2008 at 1:08 AM by Maurice Berger
Was Election 2008 a sign of a radical political realignment or just an election driven by a desire for change and discontent with the party in power. This debate is now underway, as pollsters attempt to grasp the bigger picture. As the Washington Post reports, "conservative analysts have insisted that although the Democrats
achieved a sweeping victory, it does not indicate a fundamental change.
"America is still a center-right country," as Rep. John A. Boehner (R-OH), the House Republican leader, insisted soon after the votes were counted. Liberals call that
argument nonsense. The election, wrote John B. Judis in the New Republic,
heralds the arrival of "America the liberal," provided that the
Democrats play their strong new hand effectively. This election was
"the culmination of a Democratic realignment that began in the 1990s,
was delayed by September 11, and resumed with the 2006 election." PollTrack thinks the answer will not be apparent for a while, given the dramatic imperative for change at the heart of many voter's decision making process. Indeed, as Andrew Kohut, one of the deans of American pollsters notes,
"There's no indication that ideology drove this election. It was driven by discontent with the
status quo" -- a pollster's formulation of the venerable slogan 'Throw
the bums out.'"
Posted Nov 24, 2008 at 9:04 AM by Maurice Berger
According to a new ABC News survey, 67% of Americans approve of President-elect Obama's work on the transition so far: "Approval of
Obama's handling of the transition is slightly better than Bill Clinton's 62% in
mid-November 1992. Clinton improved from there, to 72% in mid-December and 81%
just before his inauguration in mid-January 1993. . . . George W. Bush's
grade late in his transition also was high, albeit not as high as Clinton's --
72% in mid-January 2001."
Posted Nov 24, 2008 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger
One daunting problem facing the new president: consumers lagging confidence in the economy. According to a new survey--The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures the economic
confidence of consumers on a daily basis--this level has dropped another point on Monday and is
now less than a point above its all-time low. At 61.0, the Consumer Index is
little changed from a week ago, down eight points from a month ago, and down
thirty-eight points from the beginning of the year."
Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 2:20 AM by Maurice Berger
Registered GOP and independent voters are concerned about the pace and depth of change in the new Obama administration, according to a new Rasumssen survey: "Changing the way government works may have been the winning
message on Election Day, but three out of four Republicans (75%) are worried
that Barack Obama will change things too
much as president. Half of unaffiliated voters (49%) share that concern . . . Democrats take the opposite view,
with 52% worried that the new president won't change things enough. Just 19%
fear he'll go too far. Overall, 46% of voters are worried Obama will change too much, while
32% say he will change too little. Another 22% are undecided.
Posted Nov 19, 2008 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger
With the Associated Press calling Nebraska's Second Congressional District for Obama (the state and Maine are the only two not winner take all) and NBC calling Missouri for Obama, the tentative electoral count for the 2008 presidential cycle is 365 to 173. When the Missouri tally is made final by the state, PollTrack with enter the final on the Election Day Map and archive it (and the blog). we will continue to have updates on the election and its aftermath over the next month.
Posted Nov 18, 2008 at 7:15 AM by Maurice Berger
According To Gallup, Barack Obama's approval rating among registered voters is at 64% (to 25% unfavorable). Gallup also reports that "most Americans (83%) are closely tuned in to news about Obama’s
presidential transition. However, fewer (48%) are following the
transition “very closely” than say they followed the election as
Posted Nov 14, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger
The Palin factor was a big one in this election. McCain nomination of the Alaska governor as his running mate would prove a blessing and a curse for the Republican ticket. There is no question that the devout, Evangelical governor helped McCain ignite the Republican Party base, heretofore very slow to warm to the Arizona Senator. Indeed, on Election Day, McCain owed many of his 57 million votes to Palin, who helped excite and galvanized the party. But critically, she slowly began to turn off independents, especially women. As the campaign wore on, Palin's standing with voters wore down. As PollTrack observed on 14 October: "Rasmussen reports that Delaware Senator Joseph Biden is now viewed more
favorably than the Republican VP candidate: "Palin continues to
be an emotional lightning rod for voters. 56% now have a favorable view
of Biden, including
25% who say that view is Very Favorable . . . 53% view Palin
favorably, but 35% say their opinion of her is Very Favorable. 47% have
an unfavorable view of the first-term Alaska governor, compared to 41%
who say that of Biden.' In a survey released September 24, nearly a
month after they were
nominated, Palin was viewed more favorably than Biden, 54% to 49%." By Election Day, a clear majority of voters believed that Palin was not qualified to be commander in chief. While it is true that vice-presidential picks rarely impact on the eventual outcome of a presidential cycle--voters after all are mainly endorsing or rejecting the candidate at the top of the ticket--on the whole, Palin's lack of traction with voters in the middle was a decided plus for the Obama-Biden ticket.
Posted Nov 13, 2008 at 2:15 AM by Maurice Berger
CBS News Election and Survey Unit's analysis of exit polls in last weeks elections concludes that Hillary Clinton would have beaten McCain by a wider margin than Obama: "As voters left the polls on Election Day, many were asked how they
would have voted if the election match-up were between Hillary Clinton
and John McCain rather than Barack Obama and McCain. 52 percent said
they would have backed the former Democratic candidate; 41 percent
would have voted for McCain, wider than Obama’s 7-point margin over
Interestingly, 16 percent of McCain voters said they would have
voted for Clinton, the Democrat, if she had been her party’s nominee." While this conclusion is, of course, hypothetical--it's hard to predict how any candidate would do in the heat of a hard fought campaign--the piece examines the makeup of voters who now say thay would have supported Clinton instead of the Republican candidate.
Posted Nov 13, 2008 at 12:50 AM by Maurice Berger
One important advantage that Obama held in Election 2008 was the poor standing of the Republican brand. The incumbent president dropped to the lowest approval rating in history during this cycle. Voters routinely blamed the Republicans--and pointed to a perceived sense of incompetence or mismanagement on the part of the party--for the Wall Street Crisis and subsequent economic meltdown. As much as John McCain attempted to distance himself from the George W. Bush and his own party, the devastation of the Republican brand made it very difficult for him to break the wave of advantage that Obama rode for all but three weeks of the cycle. Even so, McCain was able to pull ahead of Obama after the conventions, a sign that the Democrat's victory was not inevitable and that the damaged Republican brand had not entirely hamstrung the Arizona Senator, who positioned himself as a maverick and an independent. Still, the president's low approval had a profound effect on the outcome of the election. MSNBC reports: "With the single exception of Missouri (which barely went for McCain after a
delayed call from NBC News), Obama won every state where Bush’s approval rating
was below 35% in the exit polls, and he lost every state where Bush’s approval
rating was over 35%. The state with the highest Bush rating? Utah, at 47%, which
supported McCain by a 29-point margin. The place with the lowest? Washington DC,
at 8%, where McCain got just 7% of the vote." It's hard to imagine a more inhospitable political environment for a party in power.
Posted Nov 12, 2008 at 1:14 AM by Maurice Berger
During the closely fought Democratic primaries and caucuses, a growing and thunderous chorus of Obama supporters (mostly male, by PollTrack's count) called for Hillary Clinton to withdraw from the race. One problem: throughout the latter races, Clinton trailed Obama by just a few hundred delegates at most. And, so, the contest continued to the bitter end, early June. At the time, many Obama supporters felt the hard fought contest would hurt Obama in the fall. In the end, it turned out to be a great asset, allowing him to insulate himself against potential negatives, such as the candidate's association with the Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and others. Once aired, and adeptly handled by the Obama campaign, these factors were neutralized to a certain extent for the fall campaign. More important, the long primary season allowed the Obama campaign to build deep and formidable on-the-ground operations in virtually all of the battleground states. As contributions flowed in--indeed, the heated match between the two Democratic challengers fired up their respective bases--Obama built a powerful fund raising and voter turnout database. The icing on the cake: after the "bruising" primary fight ended, Obama was able to attract the lion's share of Clinton supporters on 4 November. Obama pollster Joel Benenson, in Time magazine,
notes the campaign never believed it would have trouble winning back supporters of Sen.
Hillary Clinton. Said Benenson: "The notion that voters who supported
Senator Clinton would vote Republican in the general election was never
supported by what we saw in our polling. At the beginning of June, going into
the general election, Obama had a double-digit lead in our battleground poll
against McCain among women. He was competitive among Catholics and led 2 to 1
among Latinos. The press corps had focused on all these groups in the last three
months of the primary and was convinced that they would pose problems for us in
the general. But that just wasn't true, and we recognized that early on. As a
result, we were able to focus on swing voters instead of worrying about parts of
the base that were already with us. We looked at groups where Obama could make
gains and at places where he could broaden the map."
Posted Nov 11, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger
In terms of the percentage of eligible voters who actually turned out in 2008, the numbers are not much different from 2004. The issue in this election was not an increase in the overall numbers of voters, but a decrease in Republican participation and a significant jump in Democratic voter enthusiasm and participation. Obama's victory was due in large part to "a substantial electoral
shift toward the Democratic Party and by winning a number of key groups in the
middle of the electorate," according to a Pew Research Center analysis of exit polls. As recently as 2004, voters were evenly divided among
Republicans and Democrats. In this election, however, 39 percent identify themselves as
Democrats compared to 32 percent for the Republicans. (In this regard, Rasmussen came closest of any pollster to predicting the actual "party weighting" of the electorate in 2008.) This balance was more skewed
than in either of the last two Democratic presidential victories when Bill
Clinton ran in 1992 and 1996. The biggest of the gains for the Democratic ticket among demographic groups
since 2004--groups that would prove instrumental in Obama's decisive victory--were Hispanics (+13%), 18 to 29 year olds (+12%), urban
voters (+9%), voters making over $100,000 a year (+8%) and African Americans (+7%). The Pew study also reports that Obama did better with voters in the ideological center than most Democrats: "While moderates have favored the Democratic candidate in each of
the past five elections, Barack Obama gained the support of more voters in the
ideological "middle" than did either John Kerry or Al Gore before him. He won at
least half the votes of independents (52% vs. 49% for Kerry), suburban voters
(50% vs. 47% for Kerry), Catholics (54% vs. 47% for Kerry), and other key swing
groups in the electorate."
Posted Nov 06, 2008 at 4:54 AM by Maurice Berger
AP's analysis of vote tabulations in North Carolina concludes that Obama has won the state by less than one-half of a percentage point. Polltrack will now call its final outstanding state in the presidential race for the Democrat. The state has not gone Democratic in a presidential cycle since 1976, when Georgia native Jimmy Carter won the state over incumbent Republican president Gerald R. Ford.
Posted Nov 06, 2008 at 1:45 AM by Maurice Berger
On 18 September 2008, PollTrack's tally of electoral votes was starting to suggest that McCain was beginning to pull ahead of Obama: McCain-216 Obama-202 Too Close To Call-120. In the following weeks these numbers would steadily reverse in the wake of a comment made by the Republican nominee just days before the harrowing dimensions of the Wall Street Crisis and subsequent economic meltdown would be known: "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." When the history of the extraordinary 2008 campaign is written, it is this sentence that will read as one of the greatest game changers of the race. The remark, in and of itself, may not have been fatal for another candidate. For McCain, however, it achieved one of the most damaging results in politics--affirming the electorate's underlying anxiety or fears about a candidate. Earlier in the primary season, McCain admitted that the economy was not his strong suit. A nation on the brink of economic disaster is a frightened nation; the gnawing sense that the Republican candidate--not to mention a Republican party widely blamed by voters for the economic mess--was not competent on the economy transformed McCain into the risker choice. Yet, public opinion on the subject changed relatively slowly. On September 20th, PollTrack observed the following: "Gallup reports a slight--but only slight--benefit
for Obama in the voters' candidate preferences, vis-a-vis the current
economic crisis--'Even though Americans divide evenly as to which
candidate can better
handle the Wall Street crisis, Barack Obama seems to benefit
politically, as slightly more voters say it increases their likelihood
of voting for him (29%) than say it makes them more likely to vote for
John McCain (23%)'" As time passed, however, and voters became more worried, they took notice of Obama's cool, steady, and authoritative demeanor. If voters approached the first debate demoralized and frightened by the economic news that resonated around them, they also approached the event with a sense of longing--desire for problem solving and intelligent, wise leadership and action. In the end, many voters felt safe with the Democrat, unnerved by the Republican, and desirous of change.
Posted Nov 05, 2008 at 3:00 AM by Maurice Berger
In the next ten days, PollTrack will issue a daily report methodically examining the outcome of the 2008 presidential cycle. Today's post isolates a major turning point in the race: the first debate. In the wake of this event, the Democrat's numbers not only improved, they remained relatively stable until Election Day. As has been discussed before in this blog, the 2008 race was very similar to the 1980 race between incumbent (and politically battered) Democratic president Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan. Like Obama, pundits (and many Americans) viewed Reagan as too out of touch with the middle of the nation, a far-right Cold Warrior with domestic politics to match. In other words, he did not fit the expectations of what many believed an electable candidate. In order to win, he needed to allay these fears, proving he had the temperament to be commander-in-chief. In Barack Obama's case, his relative youth, modest experience on the national stage, left-of-center politics, and, most important, his race made him a somewhat unlikely candidate for president in a center-right country with a long history of problematic race relations and racism. The remarkable thing about debates is that they are like a great equalizer. Placing two candidates side-by-side, they allow the country to size them up, both individually and relative to each other. PollTrack believes the first debate was a crucial turning point for the Democrat, not surprising as this blog has often noted: in every competitive cycle in which debates were held since 1960, they proved to be a consequential if not determining factor in the outcome. As PollTrack wrote about the power of these debates (in this case, the Reagan-Carter match): "Indeed, it was not until the last week of the 1980 campaign, another
trying economic time, that Ronald Reagan wrapped up the election,
having convinced millions of voters through calming and commanding
debate performance that he was not the right-wing extremist some
feared. The present-day economic meltdown, and the anxiety it engenders
in voters, has created an opening for Obama." Indeed, it is PollTrack's belief that Obama's steady, calm, and authoritative performance in the first debate afforded him a game-changing opportunity to seal the deal with a wary, but also economically and politically demoralized electorate eager for CHANGE, the code word of the entire election cycle as it turns out.
Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 3:02 PM by Maurice Berger
With California's 55 electoral votes, Barack Obama is now president-elect of the United States.