Voters' Vantage Point: The Economy
This year's exit polls offer a few broad looks at voters' issue priorities and positions. Here's a quick rundown of where they stand on the economy. A look at other issues will follow in the days to come.
The economy's rise as the election's top issue helped propel Barack Obama's campaign to victory, and amid widespread concern over the economy's direction are signs most voters who cast a ballot with the economy in mind favor a stronger - and different - approach from the federal government.
Nearly a quarter of all voters called the economy the country's biggest problem and said the ability to bring change to Washington was the most important quality in a presidential candidate. Among this group, 92 percent voted for Obama.
More broadly, economy voters did not see John McCain as an agent of change. Half of economy voters saw McCain, if elected, as likely to continue George W. Bush's policies, and for a group deeply dissatisfied with the president's job performance -- 55 percent strongly disapprove -- that was a key dividing line. More than nine in 10 economy voters, 93 percent, who felt McCain would follow in the president's footsteps voted Obama, while McCain held 87 percent of those who said he would tread a different path.
Obama's supporters were more optimistic about the nation's financial prospects than were McCain's, with 54 percent of those who voted for the Democratic ticket predicting the economy would get better in the next year, compared with 39 percent of McCain-Palin voters. Overall, 47 percent of all voters said they felt it would improve over the next year, 23 percent saw further decline.
As noted here, voters appear to be increasingly open to the federal government's intervention on top issues. Over the past eight years, voters have shifted in favor of government action to solve problems in general: 51 percent in this year's exit poll said government should be doing more, compared with 46 percent who said so in 2004 and 43 percent in 2000.
Among those deeply worried about the impact the current economic crisis may have on their family's finances, 59 percent prefer greater government action, compared with just 31 percent of those voters who feel relatively secure in their own financial situation.
The bailout plan passed by Congress in mid-October, however, does not appear to fit the bill. About four in 10 voters said they supported the plan, including 43 percent of Obama supporters and 35 percent of McCain's voters. Even among those who favor greater government intervention, under half, 47 percent, supported the bailout.
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