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The Real Politics of Hope

Barack Obama's election has already contributed to one major change in public attitudes - optimism for the year ahead is now higher among Democrats, sharply lower among Republicans.

In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, most Democrats said they are hopeful about what 2009 has in store for them personally and for the world in general. Most Republicans, by contrast, are mainly fearful on both counts.

Overall, 63 percent of those polled said they are hopeful about their own prospects in the new year, while slimmer majorities are hopeful about how things will go for the world overall (54 percent hopeful) or express optimism about the way things will go for the country (51 percent).

Republicans are in a far more dour mood about the future than they were two years ago (or in the case of the economy, even a couple of months ago), while Democrats take a sunnier view of things than they did before Obama's victory.

Among Republicans, optimism about the nation's prospects and their own in the coming year have each dropped more than 30 percentage points since December 2006, with positive views declining in far smaller increments among independents. Optimism among Democrats is up slightly (five points to 64 percent), with a similar bump in hopefulness about how they will fare personally in 2009 (four points to 75 percent). And 77 percent of those who voted for Obama -- who built his presidential campaign around a theme of hope -- said they feel hopeful about what the coming year holds in store for them.

The partisan divide on the national economy has grown markedly since the election. In late September, 41 percent of Democratic registered voters said they felt optimistic about the economy, as did 49 percent of Republican voters. Now, 59 percent of Democrats said they feel optimistic about the economy in the coming year, compared with 37 percent of Republicans.

But there is almost no partisan difference on views of personal finances. Across party lines, about seven in 10 in the new poll said they feel optimistic about what 2009 will mean for their balance sheet.

Assessing prospects for the world in general, 54 percent said they feel hopeful about what 2009 will bring, 45 percent more fearful. Those figures are about even with 2006 levels, but here too, partisan views have shifted. Among Democrats, 67 percent in the new poll feel more hopeful about the world's prospects, compared with 56 percent in 2006, while among Republicans, hopefulness has plummeted from 65 percent to 39 percent. Independents held steady with 48 percent hopeful.

Looking ahead to the next year, are you more hopeful or more fearful about what the year (2009/2007) holds in store for you personally? (% saying "hopeful")

Among Democrats

Among Republicans


Thinking about the next 12 months, would you say you feel more optimistic or pessimistic about the policies Obama will pursue? (% saying "optimistic")

Among Democrats

Among Republicans


Looking ahead to the next year, are you more hopeful or more fearful about what the year (2009/2007) holds in store for the world? (% saying "hopeful")

Among Democrats

Among Republicans


By Jennifer Agiesta  |  December 31, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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Last spring my friend and I started laughing in the Amsterdam Airport as we converted dollars to Euro's paying $1.65 US. On our previous trip during the Clinton Administration a Euro cost 85 cents. We were rembering friends who actually cried after the 2000 election when it looked like there would be a possibility that Al Gore would win. They were sure he would ruin the economy.
The right wing has built a media industry whose sole purpose is to scare people about Liberals. Down here in Florida the gun stores are doing a brisk business because the Bubba's are convinced that the first thing Obama will do is tighten up their ability to buy handguns and assault rifles. Only eight years ago we had peace and prosperity and we settled for an affable rancher who seemed harmless at the time. Back then all the pessimism in the world wouldn't have been enough.

Posted by: Ralph-FL | December 31, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.."

I'm glad WaPo is at least having the source of the poll posted up front so I don't have to continue reading.

Now that I know its biased, I wonder why WaPo and other liberal rags continue to sponsor these polls (no doubt costing money they don't have) other than to try and put more lipstick on the pig that is Obama and his Ill. cronies.

And yes, against my better judgment I voted for this turkey...

Posted by: indep2 | December 31, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Things will get better once President Elect Obama is sworn in. We will have regulation, greater efficiency in government, more government funds (due to the halting of our involvement in Iraq), and a higher moral ground from which we can again lead the world.

Posted by: jmr862003 | December 31, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post-ABC News Poll is solid research, conducted by TNS, a big, mostly business-oriented polling company. So Indep2 is just a member of the party that specializes in denial. (At least he came to his senses long enough to reject McCain/Palin.) Look at how the Repubs are denying that "Barack the Magic Negro" isn't racist.
There also may be a little denial in the Dems showing optimism about '09, but better to err positively in these times.

Posted by: duffworx | December 31, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse


WaPo/ABC or any media sponsored research that is not requested and funded in an independent manner IS NOT VALID to anyone other than liberals and mainstream media outlets.

I dont care how much you disagree with me, logic is logic.

Its like saying that the millions of dollars big business gives to politicians doesnt influence politics.

Are you that stupid or are you simply ignorant to how the world works?

Posted by: indep2 | December 31, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

During an upcoming period of time with Mr. Obama as our new president, I have plenty of hope that our country will change for the better. However, sadly, I am coming to believe that Republicans in general and identified Conservatives in particular are wired to view the world as negative. Unless they are in charge of the government or on the attack against someone.

Their mindsets appear to be focused on partisan division with an aire of false superiority. They loved Sarah Palin and all her negative verbage. She is clearly a divisive figure and the poison which flowed from the Republican campaign befuddles me. Rupublicans seem to feel best when they have sway over people and when they are imposing their warped beliefs on us all.

Now they are trying to turn the media against the new president. I have come to believe that the Conservative Media and Republicans are generally selfish unhappy people. I will try to have compassion for these Republicans, but they truly appear to be hopeless.

Posted by: bela6351 | December 31, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Let's be part of this government. Let's make our voices heard. We don't have to agree with each other but friendly disagreenent can be good. It gives another point of view. It helps educate us if we follow up and find the truth. There is a source of information that is not from the media; it is "CHANGE.GOV" it will allow you to post your comments on a wide range of topics. Add your suggestions but first do your research. don't just spru hatred and venom. Do what you can to help our country. You can buy American, cut down on your use of foriegn oil, recycle, exercise and diet if you are obese, participate in your childrens education, volunteer for your favorite charity, develop and participate in community organizations that help us to elect effective officials and not those who vote according to the paying constituents. Each of us have the power to improve our country. Remember, we allowed our government to send our people to an unnecessary war because we did not participate. We allowed our government to deregulate the financial institutions. we allowed foreign trade to be unequal. This did not begin with Bush, It began with Ronald Reagan. We fell asleep, not good. Demonstrations and organization is good. Make the one person one vote more powerful than the lobbyist. Now is your chance. Stop fighting the new guy. He can't do any more harm than what is already done. He can do a lot of good if you will help him and give him a chance.

Posted by: sm98yth | December 31, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The critical question is: Do you want facts or fantasy? Whether you are on the right, the left or in the center, do you read to get more solid information so you can nuance your views--or do you read simply to reinforce your biases? What we desperately need are citizens who are ready to weigh the facts, change their mind if necessary, and get to the heart of the issues. Being less ideologically anchored does not mean you are a shiftless fence-sitter. It only means you have a brain you are willing to employ to arrive at reasonable conclusions. Bitter divisive partisanship has hurt the country and blinded people from an honest search for the facts of a given situation. Let's do it, people. Let's get real!
John Patrick Grace, Huntington, WV

Posted by: publish1 | December 31, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Fetuses voted and not surprisingly, their optimism was below ten percent for their prospects. It would have been zero but they do understand that a certain percent will make it.

Posted by: hipshot | December 31, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Pugs, please hide your sour faces in the bowl - the toilet bowl that is.

Posted by: jellybean1 | December 31, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Some have the opinion that republicans like to be at war. Think about this statement. Its about people who want to destroy us. I'm a Christian. I have always had to fend off people who want to argue, fight, generally hear me denounce my faith. Jesus was just being himself when he was crucified. It was proven that he had done nothing wrong. healing people, being a positive person, telling people of God's love. He didn't deny being God's Son so he was crucified. (I know the crusades)
We could go into the millions upon millions killed by non-followers of Christ. To the Point- defense is the issue. Islamic governments want to destroy us. How will Obama deal with this since he professes faith in Christ? What does he say to leaders of Islamic countries behind closed doors? I'm smiling. No mystery here. I anticipate the need to defend my family and my freedom of worship. Obama is 100% behind ACLU. Bye, bye Christmas. Happy Obama days!

Posted by: incoming | January 1, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse


There is a lot at risk in Iraq. But they are just Christian Iraqies right?

Iraq – Two Christian Sisters Killed
On Nov. 12, two sisters were killed and their mother wounded by a gang of Islamic extremists in the Al Qahira section of Mosul, Iraq, according to VOM contacts. The gunmen shot one of the sisters as she was waiting for a bus outside their home. They then stormed into the home, killed the other sister and injured their mother. A bomb placed by the assailants at the entrance of the house detonated as police arrived on the scene, injuring several officers.

This incident is the latest in a series of attacks on Christians that have occurred in Mosul, in recent weeks. Since October, more than seven Christians have been killed and more than 200 families displaced. The Christian community in Iraq is estimated to be 3 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people, or about 800,000. Some Christians believe they are being targeted in an effort to wipe out the Christian community's economic activity and drive believers from the area. Since 2003, Christian leaders, churches and businesses in Iraq have been targeted by Islamic extremists. As a result, many believers have fled.

The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to pray for this family as they mourn their loss and for healing for the injured mother. VOM is working to provide assistance to this grieving family. VOM has also responded with 300 Action Packs to help persecuted and displaced believers in Mosul. Pray displaced families will return safely to their homes, and ask God to protect them and other believers in Iraq as they risk all for their faith.

Posted by: incoming | January 1, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

What is Obama going to do?

Christian Persecution Intensifies Across China
On Oct. 29, China Aid Association (CAA) reported that since the end of the Olympics in Beijing, cases of religious persecution have increased.

CAA has received reports of intensified religious persecution in Beijing, Heilongjiang, Yunnan and Shangdong provinces. In Beijing, Pastor "Bike" Zhang Mingxuan and his family members have been evicted from their home, beaten and arrested. In Heliongjiang province, one city called Yichun recently banned all house churches, CAA reported. In Yunnan province, some house church members were attacked right after the Olympics. In Shandong province, Pastor Zhang Zhongxin was sentenced to two years of re-education through labor, and after the Olympics his appeal was denied, according to CAA.

Meanwhile, CAA has learned that 29 house church leaders have been serving time in labor camps and prisons in Henan province since July 2007. They are accused of being "evil cult" members. One leader was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, which is the harshest sentence against a house church leader in recent years, besides Pastor Zhang Rongliang, who was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in 2004, for allegedly "attempting to illegally cross the border and forgery of an official document," CAA added.

The Voice of the Martyrs stands with and actively supports Christians in China. VOM encourages you to pray for Christians in China who are facing immense challenges. VOM actively supports Christians in China through Christmas Care Packs and with Christian literature like the Gospel storybook, He Lived Among Us. Pray the Holy Spirit encourages and protects believers as persecution increases in China.

Posted by: incoming | January 1, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Why not use tax policy to reverse the recession? For instance, instead of paying income tax on April 15, taxpayers can apply the same money to the purchase of an American-brand car. And, any taxpayer that purchases a dwelling in 2009 can apply the purchase price against their income in 2010 and 2011 for tax purposes. These ideas will stimulate spending and lending, reduce our nation's unsold home and car inventories, and will make jobs. These ideas cost little compared to bailouts, and are a lot better than paying unemployment compensation.

Cosmo Barone

Posted by: co2mo | January 5, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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