Photo by Laurie Davidson: Protest on Wall Street
Are Gloomy, Now
Leaning to Obama
By Heidi Przybyla
Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The undecided voters who may make the difference in a close presidential election in November are more pessimistic about the direction of the nation than the broader electorate and are looking even more to Democrat Barack Obama on economic issues.
In the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll, 22 percent of voters said they are undecided or could easily change their preference between Republican John McCain and Obama. The poll was taken before this week's contentious debate over administration plans to avert further meltdowns in the financial markets by injecting at least $700 billion into the system.
Almost nine of 10 of the persuadable voters in the Bloomberg poll said the country is on the wrong track. That result is 10 percentage points higher than for all registered voters. The percentage of undecided voters who said the economy is doing badly is 7 points higher than among the broader public.
With the candidates locked in a tight contest, both Obama and McCain ``are vying for the still uncommitted voters,'' said Susan Pinkus, the Los Angeles Times polling director. This group is ``more pessimistic than voters overall, which should be worrisome for McCain, since Obama is the candidate that voters believe would strengthen the economy and help get the country out the financial crisis we're in.''
Return to Washington
Both Obama and McCain returned to Washington for a White House meeting yesterday where President George W. Bush said dire and immediate consequences will occur unless Congress approves a rescue. Obama and McCain have both said a response is needed, though both called for modifying the Treasury's plan.
In the Sept. 19-22 poll, the undecided voters said Obama would do a better job than McCain of addressing the market meltdown by a margin of 57 percent to 18 percent. That's significantly wider than among all likely voters, where there is just a 12-point gap between Illinois Senator Obama and McCain, an Arizona senator.
Poll respondent Dolcie Rogers, an 80-year-old retired copy editor and Republican, attributes the nation's woes in part to a spendthrift mentality of the younger generation now in control, including Bush. While she hasn't decided who she will vote for, Rogers said she prefers Obama's approach to the economy.
``I was a Depression child, so you don't get too excited about stuff and you don't spend, spend, spend,'' said Rogers, who lives in Botkins, Ohio. Obama, 47, is ``my kind,'' she said. ``He's frugal and he wants to make every penny count.''
These voters are as gloomy as the broader public about their own financial situation, with 63 percent saying they feel less secure than they did six months ago.
They also said a candidate's views on domestic issues such as the economy and health care are much more important than their positions on abortion and gay rights or national security and terrorism. This tracks the results for all registered voters. Last year, most voters said they were most concerned about the war and national-security issues.
While these undecided voters are also slightly more likely to say a McCain administration would continue Bush's policies, they are also significantly more positive about the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Fifty-one percent said they have a positive feeling about her, while 39 percent have a positive view of Obama's running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden. Among all registered voters, 42 percent have positive sentiments about Biden and 48 percent said the same about Palin.
Persuadable voters also give McCain a bigger edge on Iraq than other voters: 55 percent said the Republican would be best at achieving success in the war, compared with 21 percent who said Obama would do a better job. Among all likely voters, 50 percent said McCain would be best on Iraq.
McCain, 72, advocates continuing the war until Iraq is stable, while Obama is calling for U.S. troops to begin withdrawing immediately.
Poll respondent David Rattigan, a 40-year-old salesman in Cincinnati, said he has voted always Republican. He is now considering voting for Obama, though he is concerned about the situation in Iraq.
``McCain holds a stronger position and I think would help finish out Iraq and Afghanistan and help bring our troops home safely,'' Rattigan said.
The survey of 1,287 registered voters, including 838 likely voters, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for both groups.
To contact the reporter on this story: Heidi Przybyla in Las Vegas at firstname.lastname@example.org