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in the Peach State. McCain’s support in the economic category was the highest in Louisiana, at 60 percent of respondents, with the other three states averaging about 57 percent support for McCain. Further analysis in the two outliers reveals that Georgians who were “very worried” about the economy were 51 percent of the sample, and those voters supported Obama by a 51 to 45 percent margin. In Louisiana, 58 percent of voters stated they were “very worried” about the economy. Pelican State respondents, though, supported McCain by a 58 to 40 percent margin.14 These contrary results in two Deep South states give some indication about not only the relative concern of voters when it came to economic issues, but also that voters in these two states had different opinions on who was best able to deal with the nation’s economic woes. In itself, this finding gives a glimmer of hope to Democrats seeking office in Georgia, as it raises questions about the state’s “redness” on the most important political issue in 2008. Rim South. The six states of the Rim South were less favorable to McCain than Obama. Here, the GOP ticket attracted only a margin of 49 to 46 percent of respondents who were the most concerned about the economy. Largely, this close margin was driven by the three states that Obama carried: Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Arkansas, Tennessee , and Texas voters did not differ substantially from their Deep South brethren on economics. As one might expect, Floridians were the most likely to support Obama when considering economic issues. Obama had the largest margin in the South on McCain in the Sunshine State, at 56 to 42 percent. Given the number of retirees who were hit hard by the stock market plunge, this is not a surprising finding, and it also goes a long way toward explaining Obama’s victory in Florida. While Obama’s support in Virginia (54 percent) and North Carolina (52 percent) were slightly more modest, voters concerned over the economy helped to propel Obama to victory given the tight margins in those two states. Other Issues Though the economy occupied center stage for voters in 2008, voters also rated other issues as most important to them. Still, the other four major issues—Iraq, terrorism, energy policy, and health care—clearly lagged well behind economic concerns. An examination of these relatively minor issues is instructive as it reveals the depths of McCain’s disadvantage War in Iraq. Despite being a significant issue from 2005 to 2007, the Iraq war took a backseat in early 2008. This was because of a combina12 ★ Scott E. Buchanan tion of the war going much better after the troop surge in mid-2007 and the overriding concern about the economy after spring 2008. By the November election, voters were relatively unconcerned about Iraq, although those who were gave an overwhelming majority to McCain. This was consistent with polls throughout the year that showed voters had more confidence in McCain’s abilities to deal effectively with the war in Iraq. While the national exit poll sample showed that 10 percent of respondents were the most concerned about Iraq, 11 percent of southern respondents rated Iraq as their primary concern. Support for Republicans among such voters greatly varied from an apex of 52 percent in Arkansas to a low of 35 percent in Georgia. Since the end of the Vietnam War, national defense has been a Republican issue.15 Yet sentiment among some voters turned pro-Democratic in this area after the setbacks in the war in Iraq. Terrorism. When it came to terrorism, McCain had a decisive advantage over Obama. Unfortunately for the GOP, only 9 percent of southerners rated terrorism as their primary concern. In large part, concerns over terrorism have faded since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Despite having overwhelming support among this group of voters, Republicans had a distinct disadvantage given the small size of this group. This is not a surprising finding given a litany of preelection polls that indicated that the nation’s voters harbored concerns about Obama’s ability to deal with terrorism . McCain’s support was more substantial among voters who called terrorism their most important issue compared to those who pegged Iraq, and the pro-McCain pattern was consistently high among Ssuthern respondents. Energy Policy and Health Care. Energy and health care were tied among respondents naming them as their top issue. Energy had come to the forefront after...


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MARC Record
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