These observations about the economy and election are based primarily on a new election night survey conducted for the Economy Media Project — conducted the nights of November 6th and 7th — with 800 voters. This is a unique survey that explores why people voted the way they did, the impact of the economy, and the policy implications.
- The public mood on the macro economy, personal finances, and the job market all ticked up just before Election Day, but basic indicators of personal financial circumstances have not improved and remain tough for people.
- Those who either voted for or considered voting for Obama did so first because of his economic actions — getting through the crisis—but also his future plans, including getting the rich to pay more. They also supported him because of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, as well as his support for women and minorities.
- The vote against Romney was single-minded: Romney was for the rich and out of touch with the middle class, re-enforced by the 47 Percent and Bain Capital.
- This was a battle for the future of the middle class and Obama won that war.
- If the mandate is to address the middle class, step one is getting the economy moving, more than deficit reduction, and protecting retirement programs.
- Voters trust Obama on Medicare and believe Medicare and Social Security cuts should not be part of a deficit deal. Two-thirds want a tax increase to be included in any budget deal. Most would cancel or postpone the sequester.
- Economists and progressives should argue against drastic spending cuts and make the case for serious long-term investment that will also help reduce the deficit. A majority now support that position against austerity.
- There is no progressive headwind in the area of economics: voters are drawn mostly to higher taxes for high income earners and to public investment.
- But voters do not yet know the progressive economic plan. Only 44 percent of voters said Obama was better on jobs — 5 points behind Romney. And there is only modest support for short-term policies, except for school modernization and more teachers. What they do support are bold long-term policies — tested here for the first time.