Economy a key factor in 2008 election, voters say

By By Jed Layton, Staff Writer

By Jed Layton, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C.8212;Ask Rick Perez to name one reason he voted for President-elect Barack Obama and he will take a couple of minutes to explain his decision.

The American University sophomore in philosophy will scratch his head, rub his hands together and fix his collar before giving an answer.

“It is complicated,” he ends up saying. “There are so many reasons, I can’t think of just one. The economy, my hatred for President Bush and distrust of Sarah Palin are all there, but mostly I guess it was that I felt comfortable with Obama as my leader. He felt good. I can support him.”

CNN exit polls from the Nov. 4 election indicate voters were most concerned over the economy, with a majority of those voters leaning toward Obama. However, for many young voters the economy was only a part of their decision.

More than 63 percent of all voters said the economy was their biggest issue. Obama obtained 53 percent of these voters, compared to 44 percent for Sen. John McCain. Other issues such as the war in Iraq, health care and energy policy made up 26 percent of the top concerns of voters. Obama won a majority in all three areas. The only category in which McCain obtained a majority of voters was terrorism, which nine percent of voters said was the issue they cared the most about.

Sarin Gunderson, a senior in nursing at the University of the District of Columbia, said the economy was the most important issue when she voted, but she also cared about McCain’s campaign tactics.

“I didn’t like how he stopped his campaign to deal with the economic crisis,” Gunderson said. “Obama was right8212;the next president needs to be able to multi-task. I voted for Obama because he handled crisis in a cool, collective way.”

Exit polls also indicated voters cared more about the issues than about personal qualities of the candidates, 58 percent to 39 percent, according to CNN.

Sixty-five percent of those who said personal qualities were the most important said McCain was more likely to share their values and 93 percent said he had the experience to lead the country. These voters also said Obama was more likely to bring change (89 percent) and care about people (74 percent).

Sandra Coil, a graduate student at Georgetown University, said despite the inefficiency of Bush’s presidency and her expectance that McCain would have done the same, she voted for McCain because of her personal beliefs.

“I know the economy is bad, and I know it would get worse. But my instinct is to vote for McCain,” she said. “He has more in common with my moral and spiritual self than Obama does.”

Other factors CNN exit polls indicated affected the election were the races of the candidates, the age of the candidates, the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate and campaign attacks.

Tobin Baker, a junior in finance at American University, said Palin was the biggest reason he did not vote for McCain, but at the same time was the biggest reason his mother voted for the Arizona senator.

“I didn’t think she was a safe bet to become president if anything happened to McCain,” Baker said, because McCain would have been the oldest president had he been elected. “But my mom was excited about her personality, her values and her being new to Washington politics.”

Samantha Voger, a graphic design junior at UDC, suggested few voters voted on one issue, but instead had a myriad of thoughts and ideas as they walked into the polling both.

“I guess some voters thought only about abortion, or gun control,” she said. “But I think most people looked at the candidate overall and in depth. For me, the best candidate overall was Obama, but McCain had a lot of good points as well.”

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Editor’s Note8212;Jed Layton is a U student reporting from Washington, D.C., through the Hinckley Institute of Politics