For the first time in modern political history, American voters appear to be on the verge of electing a president they profoundly disagree with on a stunning array of issues.
Indeed, on subject after subject — ranging from gun ownership, to partial-birth abortion, to English as a national language, to driver’s licenses for illegals, and even to raising taxes — voters sharply disagree with Sen. Barack Obama, who some in the mainstream media portray as a virtual shoo-in to win the presidency.
Why would voters flirt with electing a president whose views contradict their own? Blame the economic meltdown on Wall Street, experts say.
“The dramatic downturn in the fortunes of the financial sector in the last month has driven all other issues into the basement,” pollster John Zogby of Zogby International told Newsmax.
Almost 65 percent of Americans now say the economy is the No. 1 issue, Zogby said. By comparison, the No. 2 issue on voters’ minds, the war on terror, is cited by just 9 percent of voters.
“We almost never get a response like that when we ask about the most important issue facing voters,” Zogby said.
So voters are so frustrated over the economy, pollsters say, that they might put a candidate in the White House whose views drastically contradict their own. Consider:
On political philosophy
, National Journal has identified Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate. Year in and year out, a solid 60 percent of Americans identify themselves as “somewhat” or “very” conservative.
Obama openly advocates income “redistribution.”
A June 27 Gallup poll asked 1,625 U.S. adults what approach government should take to fix the economy. By an 84 percent to 13 percent gap, respondents disagree with Obama and oppose redistribution of wealth. (In fact, even 77 percent of Democrats opposed it.)
Obama has been an outspoken supporter of bilingual education
. In fact, he got in trouble during the primaries by leaving the impression that he might favor mandatory
bilingual education for American kids. Here’s how U.S. voters feel: 85 percent of Americans believe that English should be designated the language of the United States, according to a June 2006 Rasmussen poll of 1,000 adults.
On the right to bear arms
, Obama says he supports an individual’s right to own guns. But in 1996, he stated on a questionnaire that he opposed the sale, manufacture, and possession or firearms. At a Milwaukee news conference this year, he said cities should be able to enact gun control “to deal with gang-bangers and random shootings.” The NRA awarded Obama an “F” grade on protecting Second Amendment rights. On that issue, Obama would appear to be seriously at odds with the average voter. A June 4-5 CNN poll of 1,035 adults nationwide showed that 87 percent oppose “Preventing all Americans from owning guns.” Similarly, a Feb. 8-10 Gallup survey of 1,016 adults found that 73 percent agree that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms.
During the Democratic primary, Obama repeatedly voiced support for granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants
, describing it as a public safety issue. Yet 77 percent of Americans oppose giving driver’s licenses to illegals, compared with just 16 percent who favor it, according to a Nov. 6, 2007, Rasmussen Reports survey. Even 68 percent of Democrats thought driver’s licenses for illegals is a bad idea.
Obama has pledged that 95 percent of Americans will actually get a tax cut under his proposals—quite a feat considering that more than a third of American adults currently pay no taxes at all. Promises aside, an August 26 Gallup poll of 1,023 adults shows 53 percent expect Obama to bring higher taxes
. A September Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters gave voters a choice: Fewer government services and lower taxes; or more government services and higher taxes. By a 57 to 31 percent margin, voters preferred lower taxes -- even at the cost of fewer government services.
On partial-birth abortion
, Obama said during an April 26, 2007, Democratic primary debate that he trusts women to decide for themselves if they want them. Obama stated that he strongly disagreed with a Supreme Court decision last year upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, because it provided no exception provided for a pregnant woman’s health. Given such an exception, Obama said he would consider limits on late-term abortion. In August, he said that the question of when a baby qualifies for human rights is “above my pay grade.” NARAL, the pro-abortion rights advocacy organization, gives him a perfect 100 pro-choice rating. But 68 percent of voters disagree with Obama and favor a ban on partial-birth abortions, according to a November 2003 Gallup poll of 1,036 adults.
There’s no secret to Obama’s popularity in the polls despite his unpopular stance on many key issues.
“These are important issues that may drive individual voters away from Obama,” Zogby said, “but they are not by a long shot the most important issues in this campaign.”
Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, isn’t at all surprised at Obama’s strength, as reflected in many surveys.
“When an incumbent president is at 25 percent in the polls, when 91 percent of Americans say the country is off on the wrong track, and when the economy is very rocky, it is virtually impossible for the White House party to get a third term,” he told Newsmax. “I’ve been studying this subject for 38 years. It really is that simple.”
All of which raises the possibility of a country at war electing the candidate widely viewed as less capable of protecting the country.
“McCain is seen far and away as a better commander in chief,” Zogby said, “but nobody’s thinking about that right now.”
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