The latest Zogby tracking polls show John McCain and Barack Obama running neck and neck with six weeks left in the presidential election campaign, but presidential pollster John Zogby of Zogby International says neither candidate has a natural advantage with the electorate when it comes to the nation’s economic woes.
“What we discovered on most questions regarding economic policy is that American voters are split down the middle,” Zogby tells Newsmax in reference to the recent failure of the mortgage industry and proposed federal government bailout dominating the headlines.
“Neither candidate has an edge on [the economy] so, ultimately, it’s going to come down to character traits like leadership, vision, and the ability to work with the opposition to get the job done.”
Zogby’s latest findings show no clear direction coming from the American people in regard to the economic arena other than “fix it.”
“People feel the country is on the wrong track,” he says. “The leadership in both the Congress and the White House are getting very low marks, and they [the American people] are jittery about their personal economic future.”
Zogby’s latest findings also show that people are expecting even more bad news on the economic front.
“That’s where I think both candidates really have to show their mettle,” Zogby says. “[American’s are] very jittery. In polling we did last week for the Reuters/Zogby Index — which was established a year ago — the index is down about 10 rating points, meaning it’s at about 90 percent of the 100 percent benchmark that was established.”
Zogby thinks the American people will look to blame somebody for this mess and hold them accountable.
“Interestingly they do blame the White House and Congress — in that order,” Zogby says. “Combined, it’s a whopping 42 percent that blame them before they blame the industry or anyone else. The interesting thing here is that this is supposed to be a big advantage for the Democrats. It may turn into a big advantage for them, but I don’t think they’re feeling the love just yet.”
When asked if undecided voters who usually break for the challenger will follow that historical trend this election, Zogby says we have no way of knowing, especially given the fact that both candidates are defined as challengers.
“John McCain has certainly, and predictably, defined himself as a candidate for change, though a different kind of change than Barack Obama,” Zogby answers. “In this instance, I think there are other variables at play that make this a historical election.”
Which presidential candidate will perform better in the polls as far as confidence in solving the financial crisis?
“It remains to be seen,” Zogby says. “Neither candidate has the edge. My hunch tells me that Obama will probably score some points this week, and also during the debate that’s coming up in a few days.”
But Zogby says, at the same time, the economy has not been a strength for John McCain. He points to McCain letting out mixed signals and, perhaps, wrong signals talking about a “fundamentally strong infrastructure” for our economy.
“I don’t think voters want to hear that.”
VIDEO: John Zogby: Voters Split on Support of Wall Street Bailout
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