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Change I Am

It's hardly surprising that "change" is the election's "it" word. After all, more than three-quarters of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction and two-thirds feel "strongly" that the next president should not follow George W. Bush's lead.

But just what does "change" mean?

The latest Post-ABC poll offers some clues, but also presents a clear challenge for presidential contenders: there is no consensus.

For the first time since we started asking over the summer, nearly as many people prioritize "a new direction and new ideas" as "strength and experience." In the new poll, 43 percent said a candidate's offering a fresh approach is paramount and 47 percent said the steady hand was more important (9 percent said they were equally crucial). This time, we asked those seeking something new what exactly they wanted to "change."

Nearly a quarter of those wanting something new from presidential candidates said their idea of change was doing something to improve the economy. (The economy was the top choice across party lines.) About one in eight said they were focused on bringing an end to the war in Iraq, and no other single definition reached double-digits.

Seven percent wanted to change the way things work in Washington, 5 percent highlighted health care and 4 percent corruption.

The wide-range of responses included the specific, the critical and the sweeping. One poll respondent wanted to criminalize lobbying, another called the term mere "lip-service; one asked for a "termination of the good old boy syndrome," another for "world peace."

By Jon Cohen  |  January 17, 2008; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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