Monday, November 17, 2008

The Issues Changed: Conclusion

PPP's newest report looks at how the issues changed over the course of 2008 in the key swing states of Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio and how that contributed to Barack Obama's landslide victory. This is the conclusion. You can read the full report here.
What’s particularly interesting about immigration declining as an issue so strongly across the board is that other issues that might be perceived as ‘conservative’ ones did not see a similar drop. Across these three states an average of 11% of voters said moral and family values was their biggest concern in deciding who to vote for in January. It was no different at the end of the election, still 11%. It’s the same story with taxes. 5% of voters in these swing states said that was their biggest worry at the start of the year and at the end of the election cycle it was 6%, showing essentially no change. It was only immigration that showed such a strong decline, perhaps an indication that taxes and morality will be big issues for at least some American voters regardless of the political climate in perpetuity, but immigration may be ‘passing through’ as a top concern for American voters.

Would Barack Obama have won the election if the economy hadn’t been so overwhelmingly the top issue? Probably so. He never trailed in a PPP poll of Virginia or Colorado from June on, even at the height of the McCain bump after the Republican convention and before the financial crisis really started to peak. Obama would more than likely have been able to win the election with those two states in his column. But as this analysis shows, high levels of voter concern about the economy and high levels of support for Barack Obama among those voters certainly made the lopsidedness of his victory possible and may have been the driving factor in pushing these swing states over to the Democratic column.

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