Post Election Report: The New Politics and New Mandate


Stanley Greenberg, James Carville, and Ana Iparraguirre
Democracy Corps and Campaign for America's Future

Downloads

 Executive Summary

The American people paid extraordinary attention to the race for president in 2008 and made a considered choice of Barack Obama. Voters want to give Obama a honeymoon to bring change in an urgent but considered and serious way. They want the new president to address a handful of big problems, some boldly, some step-by-step, but with a goal of major, long-term change, particularly on the economy. With Obama winning an outright majority and viewed very favorably across the electorate, voters feel a personal investment in his success.

Key Findings

  • Obama’s honeymoon. Despite the attacks during the campaign, almost 60 percent came to view the President-elect favorably and believe he has what it takes to be president. And voters want both parties to work with the new president and his agenda to get the change done.
  • The mandate. Voters are looking above all for a new middle class economics that cuts taxes for the middle class and asks the richest and corporations to pay their share, a focus on a jobs-led recovery that restores America’s long-term strength, major action to achieve energy independence and affordable health care for all, and a responsible end to the Iraq war.
  • A new coalition. Obama’s election also created a new coalition of groups that not only looks more politically durable, but that re-enforces the image of the Democrats as more future-oriented, open and growing. Obama won the support of nearly two-thirds of African Americans, Latinos and Asians while also making some gains with white voters. He also won nearly two-thirds of unmarried women and young voters. He took 60 percent of post-graduates and remarkably, 55 percent in the suburbs. Along with winning back many Catholic voters and union households, and running respectably in rural areas, Obama was able to put together an impressive, cross-country victory.
  • A center-left nation. On virtually every dimension of the liberal-conservatism debate, voters have moved to a new place. They show a new openness for the country to use government for a range of public purposes; support for multilateralism over a go-it-alone, military-centered policy is at historic highs; 54 percent saying homosexuality should be accepted, not discouraged. Yet, voters remain cautious about government spending and taxes after eight years of bloated spending, deficits, corruption, incompetence and special-interest rule.

Methodology

These observations are based on the 2,000 sample post-election survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Campaign for America’s Future and Democracy Corps on election night and the night afterward (November 4-5, 2008). These organizations have collaborated since 1996 to field a large post-election study to explore why Americans voted the way they did.