The Change Election Awaiting Change

A survey of 2,000 voters taken during and immediately after the November 4, 2008, general election shows that Sen. Barack Obama’s historic victory in the presidential race spearheaded a sea-change election. It marks the end of the conservative era that has dominated our politics since 1980 and the beginning of a new era of progressive reform, driven by an emerging progressive majority.

In responses to a broad range of questions, the repudiation of President George W. Bush, the Republican Congress and the conservatism they championed is clear.

The survey also reveals the consolidation of a new majority coalition and the mandate for progressive reform that Obama and congressional Democrats have. Republicans emerge from this election as an aging, monochromatic, largely regional party, increasingly in the grip of its evangelical base. Democrats are consolidating a governing majority in what is, increasingly, a center-left nation.

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From the Democracy Corps/Campaign for America’s Future poll:

  • The top reasons polled voters supported Barack Obama: Would withdraw troops from Iraq (35 percent), would be for the middle class (32 percent) and has a plan for affordable health care for all (29 percent)
  • The top issues that voters think Obama should focus on: Reducing unemployment and getting the economy moving (62 percent), investing in alternative energy and getting us off foreign oil (44 percent), changing the health care system (21 percent)
  • Economic policies at or near the top voters want Obama to address: Repealing the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 and cutting taxes for people making less (60 percent), making job-creating investments in infrastructure (60 percent), raise the minimum wage (54 percent), enacting a three-month moratorium on all foreclosures (51 percent), repealing tax breaks that benefit companies that export jobs overseas (50 percent)
  • Voters agree that: The middle class is more threatened by global trade and greedy CEOs than by loo-lenient immigration and affirmative action policies (60 percent), they are more worried about giving additional tax breaks to the rich and corporations than about going too far (61 percent), we need to reform public schools and invest properly in them rather than give parents private-school vouchers (68 percent).
  • But voters are split on investment vs. spending: 49 percent fear going too far in increasing government spending; 48 percent worry that the country won’t make the investments needed to strengthen the economy.

The results are based on a poll of 2,000 voters conducted November 4 and 5, 2008.