Joblessness and high prices are among top voter worries
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rising prices and chronic unemployment were heavy on the minds of voters Tuesday even as a glimmer of optimism peeked through. Four in 10 said the nation’s battered economy is getting better.
Most everyone agreed there’s still far to go. They were less likely to blame President Barack Obama for the economic troubles, however, than to point the finger at his predecessor, George W. Bush, according to preliminary results of a national exit poll.
Only a fourth thought they were better off financially than four years ago when Obama was elected in the midst of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. Voters were most likely to say their families were doing about the same, and Obama led among that group.
A third felt worse off, and they were voting heavily for Romney.
The survey of voters as they left polling places showed 6 in 10 ranked the economy the top issue, way ahead of health care, the federal budget deficit or foreign policy. The majority who don’t yet see economic improvement were roughly divided over whether things were getting even worse or just stuck in place.
About 4 in 10 blamed Obama for the nation’s economic woes, and almost all of them voted for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Voters pointed to years of high unemployment and rising prices as the biggest troubles for people like them; those two worries far outstripped concerns about the housing market or taxes in the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks.
Joseph Neat, a stay-at-home father in Hagerstown, Md., said Obama hasn’t solved the problems that are hurting families like his, especially gasoline prices that Neat called “insane.”
“We don’t have time for him to make changes. We need the changes now,” he said of Obama. “And four years is plenty of time.”
Three-fourths said the economy is poor or not so good, and they mostly backed Romney. Still, many voters like William Mullins of Lansing, Mich., felt Obama needed more time to fix things.
“Obama had a lot to deal with when he came to office,” Mullins said. “You can’t change everything overnight.”
Only a quarter of voters were feeling enthusiastic about Obama’s administration; at least as many were angry about it.
Romney’s voters were a bit more likely to say they had reservations about their man. About a fourth felt that way.
Overall, most voters felt strongly about their choice, however, with Obama’s supporters somewhat more enthusiastic.
The presidential campaign grew bitterly negative at times, but on Election Day the voters didn’t dwell on that: Just 1 in 10 said they were primarily voting against the other guy.
About half said government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, a point hammered by Romney throughout the campaign. Only 4 in 10 wanted government to do more.
“I haven’t had a raise in two years because of Obama’s anti-business policies,” said Ken Keller, a Schaumburg, Ill., engineer who voted for Romney.
The Obama campaign’s insistence that the multimillionaire Romney would do more for well-heeled Americans seems to have taken hold in many voters’ minds. Half said they think the former Massachusetts governor’s policies generally favor the rich and barely any thought he favors the poor.
“I don’t think Romney understands people who are down and out,” said Cari Herling, an insurance analyst from Sun Prairie, Wis.
In contrast, only about 1 in 10 said Obama, who has pushed higher taxes for the wealthy, favors rich Americans. The biggest group — 4 in 10 — said Obama’s policies help the middle class, with the poor coming in second.
Voters tended to think the U.S. economic system as a whole favors the wealthy.
About half said taxes should be raised on income over $250,000 per year, as Obama wants. Yet voters gave a resounding “no” when asked whether they wanted taxes raised to help cut the spiraling budget deficit.
Nearly two-thirds of voters said they thought illegal immigrants working in the United States should be offered a chance to apply for legal status, instead of being deported.
In a race that’s been neck-and-neck for months, about 1 in 10 voters said they’d only settled on their presidential choice within the last few days or even on Election Day. They were closely divided between Obama and Romney.
The survey of 19,728 voters was conducted for the AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 350 precincts nationally Tuesday, as well as 4,389 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
Associated Press writers David Dishneau in Hagerstown, Md., and Todd Richmond in Sun Prairie, Wis., contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11