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, but almost everyone agreed there’s still a long way to go.
Voters were less likely to blame President 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.
In a much tighter race than the one that swept Mr. Obama into the White House, the poll showed him again leading among his key demographics of women, young people, blacks and Hispanics.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney was strongly favored by men, whites and those with family incomes of $50,000 or more. He was doing a little better among those critical groups than Sen. John McCain did four years ago and also echoed Mr. McCain’s lead among seniors.
Only a fourth of voters thought they were better off financially than four years ago, when Mr. 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 Mr. 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 didn’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 Mr. Obama for the nation’s economic woes, and almost all of them voted for Mr. 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.
“We don’t have time for him to make changes. We need the changes now,” he said of Mr. Obama. “And four years is plenty of time.”
Overall, slightly more than half of voters thought the nation was seriously on the wrong track instead of going in the right direction — usually a bad sign for an incumbent.
Three-fourths said the economy is poor or not so good, and they mostly backed Mr. Romney. Still, many voters, like William Mullins of Lansing, Mich., said they thought Mr. Obama needed more time to fix things.
“Obama had a lot to deal with when he came to office,” Mr. Mullins said. “You can’t change everything overnight.”
Just a quarter of voters were feeling enthusiastic about Mr. Obama’s administration; at least as many were angry about it.View Entire Story
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