Election Day Poll on Voter Attitudes and Implications for Democratic Strategy


Republicans should not misread the mandate and the changes that came out of this big election. This post-election survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America’s Future digs deeply into what produced this historic result and voters’ priorities in the critical period ahead.

This was a protest election — with voters angry about the president and Congress’ performance on the economy and absence of economic direction and vision, the bailouts and spending, inattention to the economy as reflected in the long-battle over health care and the poisonous partisan politics that carried on right through the crisis. Voters are looking for change — but not what the Republicans are offering. The Republicans’ image stands no higher than in 2008 and 2006 elections. A large majority of voters remain hopeful for the president and clearly want him to succeed.

Key Findings 

  • Anger is running high. Nearly six-in-ten said their vote was an attempt to send a message to Washington about their dissatisfaction, very similar to the 1994 election.
  • The anger is fueled by the perceived big spending and liberal policies in Washington, but as many are angry about leaders in Washington working for elites and not regular people and engaging in extreme partisan politics.
  • Democrats lost ground above all with independents, blue collar whites, particularly men, seniors and suburban voters where they had made gains in recent elections.
  • But two critical parts of the new Democratic base -- young voters and white unmarried women — pulled back. The former did not vote anywhere near 2008 numbers and support fell off. Democrats did not carry the latter — critical to this election.
  • The message of not going back to the policies that produced this mess was not helpful — and there were powerful Democratic messages even on Election Day.
  • While voters voted against what they perceived to be unproductive spending, that does not mean they now want a period of austerity. They clearly want investment and growth strategies, as well as deficit reduction.
  • Republicans are in danger of misreading their mandate on spending cuts ($100 billion, including education), Social Security and Medicare.
  • Voters are looking, not for a cramped vision, but a way for the country to reverse the current decline.

Methodology

This report is based on a survey of 1000 2008 voters, including 897 2010 voters conducted on November 2-3, 2010 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America’s Future.