A week after the election, voters are feeling good about themselves, the presidential campaign and Barack Obama. Looking ahead, they have high expectations for the Obama administration, with two-thirds predicting that he will have a successful first term.
Barack Obama captured the White House on the strength of a substantial electoral shift toward the Democratic Party and by winning a number of key groups in the middle of the electorate. In particular, the overwhelming backing of younger voters was a critical factor in Obama's victory, according to an analysis of National Election Pool exit poll data.
The Pew Research Center's final pre-election poll of 2,587 likely voters finds 49% supporting or leaning to Obama, 42% for McCain; 2% for minor party candidates and 7% undecided. When the undecided vote is allocated, Obama holds a 52% to 46% lead over McCain. The survey was conducted from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1.
As recently as a month ago, this analyst and the American public itself were throwing up our hands and saying we can't figure this one out -- too many intangibles. No more.
With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, voters remain riveted to the presidential campaign. But liberal Democrats are engaging in far more activism than other partisan and ideological groups.
Obama is inspiring more confidence on several key issues, including Iraq and terrorism, than he did before the debates, and his margin over McCain as the candidate best able to improve economic conditions has grown.
The race remains close as enthusiasm for McCain increases among GOP base. Somewhat more swing voters (46%) say their greater concern is that McCain will govern too much like President Bush, rather than that Obama lacks experience (37%).
Even with a partisan enthusiasm gap, voter interest is already as high as in November of recent elections, two trends that may significantly alter the composition of the eventual electorate in the Democrats' favor. The proportion of swing voters is also up compared with four years ago. Nearly half of independents (47%) are undecided or may change their minds, up from 28% in June 2004.
While a majority of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters (53%) favor a so-called "Dream Ticket," fully 54% of Obama supporters do not want Clinton chosen as his running mate.
While Obama has opened up a wide lead in the Democratic primary, he now runs about even against McCain. The tightening general election shows some sullying of Obama's personal image over the past three months, which is in some measure a negative reaction from frustrated Clinton supporters. McCain's image has also become more negative since February, however, unlike Obama, those who disapprove cite his political beliefs.