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78 ★ Robert E. Hogan and Eunice H. McCarney Table 5.2 Support for Presidential Candidates in Louisiana and Nationally Among Voters with Differing Political Viewpoints (in percent) LOUISIANA NATIONALLY Obama McCain Total Obama McCain Total Party Identification Democrat 75 24 42 89 10 39 Republican 3 96 38 9 90 32 Independent 32 62 21 52 44 29 Ideology Liberal 77 19 16 89 10 22 Moderate 45 54 42 60 39 44 Conservative 18 80 42 20 78 34 Most Important Issue Energy Policy 30 66 11 50 46 7 Iraq 50 47 13 59 39 10 Economy 39 60 53 53 44 63 Terrorism 8 90 10 13 86 9 Health Care 58 39 10 73 26 9 Most Important Candidate Quality Shares My Values 15 83 31 32 65 30 Can Bring Change 83 15 29 89 9 34 Experience 5 95 23 7 93 20 Cares about People 59 37 11 74 24 12 Worried about Economic Conditions Yes 37 62 86 54 44 85 No 47 51 13 33 65 14 Approve of Bush’s Handling of His Job Approve 5 94 43 10 89 27 Disapprove 63 34 56 67 31 71 Source: Table 5.2 lists other differences among voter attitudes and how these are associated with voting behavior. In Louisiana voters citing energy policy , the economy, and terrorism as their most important issue of concern were much more likely to vote for McCain, while voters choosing Iraq and health care were more likely to vote for Obama. Such levels of support are rather different than what we see in the nationwide sample where support for Obama is much higher in all groups except those believing that terrorism is the most important issue. Regardless of what issue voters viewed as most important, Obama’s support was lower and McCain’s was higher in Louisiana compared to voters nationwide. Similar differences are present if one examines voters based on the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate. Even among voters who say they look for a candidate who “can bring change,” those in Louisiana supported McCain by a wider margin than voters nationwide. Whether these attitudes about issues and candidate qualities influence the support of particular candidates or whether they reflect underlying voter predispositions toward the candidates and parties, they indicate the deep levels of support McCain enjoyed in Louisiana. A final perspective on voter attitudes that may help us understand voting behavior in the state involves the two major conditioning elements of the 2008 presidential elections—the unfolding economic crisis and the very low levels of support for the incumbent Republican president. Analyses of the exit poll data in Table 5.2 show that nationwide concern about economic conditions played into preferences for a particular candidate. Specifically, voters concerned over the crisis were more likely to vote for Obama. But in Louisiana, such concerns did not translate into support. In fact, those worried about economic conditions supported McCain 62 to 37 percent compared to nationwide support favoring Obama 54 to 44 percent. In terms of President Bush’s job approval in the state, the relative levels of support for Obama and McCain did not vary dramatically between Louisiana and the nation. Louisiana voters approving of Bush’s job performance were slightly more supportive of McCain than voters nationwide. However, Louisiana voters in general were much more supportive of Bush overall—43 percent of state approved of his handling of his job compared to only 27 percent nationwide. These contextual findings demonstrate that the economic conditions that helped Obama nationwide didn’t help him very much in Louisiana. In addition, Bush’s poor approval wasn’t as low in Louisiana as in other parts of the country so this did less harm to McCain’s support in the state. Louisiana ★ 79 The overall finding to emerge is that Obama’s support was quite thin across various demographic groups and among voters holding a wide variety of political viewpoints. Even voting groups who strongly backed the Democratic nominee nationally such as young voters, moderates, and urban dwellers were more supportive of the Republican nominee in Lou isiana . Worsening economic conditions and low popularity ratings for President Bush that conditioned the election and benefited Obama nationally did not have a similar effect in Louisiana. Other Elections The only other major election in Louisiana in 2008 was that for U.S. Senate, where incumbent Democrat...


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