Research Impacts - Polls

Obama Surges Amid Financial Crisis; Palin Favorability Takes Hit

Release Date: 9/30/2008
 

By Seth Brohinsky and Mark Schulman, Abt SRBI

Amid the worst financial crisis many Americans have experienced in their lifetime, Barack Obama has surged ahead of John McCain in the most recent Time Magazine Poll, conducted September 26 – 29. Obama now leads McCain by seven points, 50% to 43% among likely voters with 5% undecided.

Obama has widened his lead from Time’s pre-convention poll, when he led McCain by 5 points, 46% to 41%.

  • Among voters with the highest likelihood of voting, Obama leads McCain by 6 points, 50% to 44%.

If the Presidential election were held today and the candidates were Barack Obama and Joe
Biden,the Democrats, and John McCain and Sarah Palin, the Republicans, and you had to choose,
for whom would you vote?

Base: Likely voters        
 

Firm Support
(%)

"Leaning Support"
(Base: Undecided /
Unsure likely voters)
(%)

Total Support
(%)

High Likelihood Voters
(Base: Follow election
very/somewhat closely
and always/almost
always vote)
(%)

Obama/Biden

48

27

50

50

McCain/Palin

41

21

43

44

Other Candidate

2

2

2

2

Undecided

9

49

5

4


Warning Signs for McCain: Female Vote Slips

John McCain’s post-convention bounce appears to have subsided. There are now serious warning signs that his support is beginning to wane, particularly among women.

  • Obama now leads McCain by 17 points among likely female voters, 55% to 38%. Just after the Republican convention, a Time poll had the race virtually tied among women, 48% Obama, 47% McCain.
  • Obama leads among white women 48% to 45%. In 2004, Bush won the vote of white women by 11 points, 55%-44%, according to the exit polls.
  • Obama also leads among married women, 50%-44%. Bush carried married women by 15 points in 2004, 57%-42%.
  • Almost one-quarter (23%) of McCain supporters say there is a chance they may change their mind, compared to 15% of Obama supporters.
  • Among independents, McCain now trails Obama, 47% - 42%.

Palin Has Lowest Favorability

After a big initial splash, Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate, now has the lowest favorability rating (47%) and highest unfavorable rating (40%) among the major Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates in the election.


Just based on what you've seen or heard, do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of…

Base: Likely voters

 

 

 

 

Favorable (%)

Unfavorable (%)

Net Favorability (%)

Barack Obama

60

33

27

John McCain

54

38

16

Joe Biden

50

31

19

Sarah Palin

47

40

7


Obama Gains from Debate

Almost three-quarters (73%) of likely voters watched Friday’s Presidential debate. More voters (41%) thought Obama won than McCain (27%).

  • About one-quarter (23%) of those who watched the debate said it made them more likely to vote for Obama. Only 16% said it made them more likely to vote for McCain.

Main Street: Voters’ Financial Situation Worsening

Almost two-thirds voters (65%) report that that their own economic situation has worsened in the past twelve months. Only 5% say their situation has gotten better, with 30% saying it remained the same.

  • A majority of voters (59%) who have suffered economically support Obama.

Obama Not a “Traditional Black Candidate”

Most voters (57%) also see Obama as a candidate of a new generation of Americans; just 5% see him as a traditional Black candidate.

  • This sentiment is true among a majority of White voters (52%) and almost all Black voters (85%).

Which one of the following best describes Barack Obama – Do you see Obama more as a traditional Black candidate
More as a traditional Democratic party candidate, or more as a candidate of a new generation of Americans?

Base: Likely voters

 

 

 

 

Total (%)

 White (%)

Black (%)

A Traditional Black Candidate

5

5

2

A Traditional Democratic Candidate

32

37

11

A Candidate of a New Generation of Americans

57

52

85

Other/None

3

2

2

No Answer/ Don’t Know

4

4

1


Race and the Election: Some Gains, Some Losses for Obama

The issue of race has been a constant theme in this election, with many pundits predicting how it will affect the outcome. Most voters (90%) say Obama’s race will not be a factor in their vote (although 10% of 18-34 year olds and 16% of Black voters say Obama’s race has made them more likely to vote for Obama).

While some voters may be reluctant to admit Obama’s race will impact their vote; 38% say they know someone who is more likely to support Obama because of his race. Additionally, 44% say they know someone who is less likely to vote for Obama because of his race.


Regardless of your own views, do you personally know anyone who is

Base: Likely voters

 

 

 

More Likely to Vote for Obama Because of his Race (%)

Less Likely to Vote for Obama Because of his Race (%)

Yes

38

44

No

59

54

No Answer/Don't Know

3

2


A majority of voters feel the following statements, both positive and negative; describe Barack Obama and his campaign for the Presidency at least some...

  • Obama brings together different races and backgrounds – 76%
  • Obama isn’t white or black; he’s a little of both – 65%
  • Obama’s election to the Presidency would help restore a sense of hope and inspiration to America – 61%
  • Obama is pretty much just another politician – 56%
  • Obama’s election would help to heal America’s racial history and division – 55%
  • Obama gives a great speech, but doesn’t have many other qualifications for President – 50%

Among voters with an unfavorable opinion of Obama (33%); most (78%) view his liberal voting record as a major reason. Other reasons include...

  • He doesn’t have enough experience to be President – 77%
  • He opposed the troop surge in Iraq – 58%

Obama Seen as Better Prepared to Handle Financial Crisis

Barack Obama has also gained some support as a result of the financial crises that has gripped the nation in recent days. Voters give Barack Obama the edge over John McCain, 45%-37%, as being the better leader to handle the situation.

Most voters disapprove of how President Bush (65%) and the Republicans in Congress (57%) have handled the financial crisis so far.

  • 49% disapprove of how the Democrats in Congress have handled the crisis.
  • 45% disapprove of how John McCain has handled the crisis.
  • 32% disapprove of how Barack Obama has handled the crisis.

Congress is debating a plan to stabilize the financial industry’s bad mortgage
 debt crisis with a $700 billion dollar bailout plan. Just based on what you’ve
 seen or heard, do you approve or disapprove of how each of the following has handled the financial crisis so far?

Base: Likely voters

 

 

 

 

Approve (%)

Disapprove (%)

Approval Net (%)

Barack Obama

38

32

6

John McCain

33

45

-12

Democrats in Congress

32

49

-17

Republicans in Congress

27

57

-30

President Bush

26

65

-39


Most voters (54%) agree that Congress should have taken more time to consider the rescue plan.

 Methodology

This Time Magazine poll was conducted by telephone September 26 – 29, 2008 among a national random sample (RDD) of 1,133 likely voters, age 18 and older throughout America. The poll includes limited interviews with cell phone respondents.

The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 3 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Surveys are subject to other error sources as well, including sampling coverage error, recording error, and respondent error.

The sample’s partisan distribution is as follows:

  • Democrats: 34%
  • Republicans: 27%
  • Independents: 30%

Abt SRBI Public Affairs designed the survey and conducted all interviewing.  Contact: Mark Schulman, at 212-779-7700.

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