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Date: Oct 29, 2008
Second National Suburban Poll Shows Obama Pulling Ahead of McCain in Suburbs, Closing Gap in Rural Areas, Far Ahead in Cities
Poll shows Obama with an eight-point lead among suburban voters, and a 10-point lead nationally
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – A new National Suburban Poll for The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University (NCSS) shows that the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden now enjoys the support of 47 percent of suburbanites, compared with only 39 percent of suburban registered voters who now say they back Republican John McCain and Sarah Palin. This is a major reversal from the first National Suburban poll just one month ago, which showed McCain/Palin leading Obama/Biden 48-42 percent in the nation’s suburbs.
"Against a backdrop of growing economic pain in suburbia, Barack Obama has surged past John McCain among suburban ‘swing’ voters who usually decide national elections," said Lawrence C. Levy, NCSS executive director, citing one of the key findings in the second National Suburban Poll released today by the NCSS. "McCain needs the suburbs if he is to mount a comeback in the final week of the campaign."
"It is interesting to note that in the past month, the proportion of suburban voters that rate their financial situation as 'poor' or 'fair' hasn't changed, even though more of them now say that they or someone they know has seen pay cuts, reduced hours, or lost benefits,” said NCSS Academic Director Christopher Niedt, Ph.D. “What has changed is that those who do see their financial situation negatively have swung toward Obama, and many of those voters appear to be the crucial suburban independents."
A month ago, those with a negative view of their personal finances supported Obama by a 10-
point margin, 50 percent to 40 percent. Now, among those with a negative view of their finances,
Obama has opened up a more than 30-point margin, 58-22.
"What is particularly striking is the movement of the independents in the suburbs," said Evans Witt, chief executive officer of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which designed and conducted the poll for the NCSS.
Last month, the Hofstra National Suburban poll showed McCain leading among suburban independents by a 46-percent-to-38-percent edge, but 13 percent were undecided or refused to answer. The new poll shows suburban independents have reversed, going 45 percent for Obama and 37 percent for McCain.
The overall national race stands at 48 percent for Obama and 38 percent for McCain among registered voters in the latest National Suburban Poll, as Obama has maintained a big lead in the urban areas and cut into McCain’s margin in rural areas. In the rural areas, the Republican ticket now splits the vote with the Democratic ticket 43 percent to 40 percent. But in the cities, Obama and Biden lead by a 22-point margin (55%-33%).
Early voting and voting by absentee ballot is surging across the country and in the suburbs. About one in nine suburbanites (11%) say they have already voted, according to the poll results. Among the remaining registered voters who have not yet voted, but plan to, about one in four (27%) say they will vote early.
The second Hofstra National Suburban Poll is based on telephone interviews with 1,503 adults age 18 and older living in the continental United States. The interviews were conducted from Oct. 22-26, 2008. The second National Suburban Poll over-sampled adults living in suburban areas of the country, completing interviews with 1,000 adults in the suburbs. This over-sampling allows a strong focus on the attitudes of suburbanites, while allowing comparisons with those who live in the nation’s cities and rural areas. For results based on total sample, the overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points. For results based just on suburban residents or just on registered voters in suburbia, the sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.
Among other findings of the poll:
• Obama has retaken the lead in the suburbs among registered voters that he held in the spring, but had lost in the summer. In the September Suburban Poll, McCain held a 48-percent-to-42 percent edge over Obama among registered voters. Thus, the October results show an Obama gain of five percentage points in a month, while McCain has slipped nine points.
• The shifts in support for the candidates have not changed the levels of enthusiasm for them. Obama’s suburban backers say they strongly support him by a 71-percent-to-27-percent margin, essentially the same as the margin in September (74%-26%). Among McCain backers in the suburbs, the numbers are very similar to Obama’s, voicing strong support for McCain by a 68-percent-to-30-percent margin. And that, again, is essentially identical to the 70-percent-to-29-percent margin in September.
• The bulwark of McCain’s support had been suburban men, but that has crumbled. Obama now leads among suburban men by a 46-percent-to-38-percent margin. Just one month
ago, McCain led among male registered voters in the suburbs by a 51-percent-to-40-percent margin. And Obama has moved to lead among suburban women as well, by a 48-percent-to-40-percent edge. A month ago, women in the suburbs were split (45%-45%) between the candidates.
The Hofstra National Suburban Poll is part of Hofstra’s Educate '08, an unprecedented series of lectures, conferences, artistic performances and exhibitions, town hall meetings, interactive forums and other initiatives leading up to the third and final presidential debate at Hofstra on October 15, 2008 and the presidential election on November 4. The series is focused on the issues, history and politics of presidential elections. Educate '08 provides our students, faculty and the entire surrounding community with access to the newsmakers, scholars and policymakers who have unique insight and knowledge of the American political system.
Find out more about Educate '08 by visiting www.hofstra.edu/educate08
The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University is a non-partisan research institution dedicated to promoting objective, academically rigorous study of suburbia's problems, as well as its promise. Rooted in the laboratory of Long Island’s diverse and aging suburbs, almost literally in the shadows of the iconic Levittown, the National Center will study a broad range of issues from local and national perspectives and, whenever possible, collaborate with researchers at other respected institutions. The suburbs have emerged as the nexus of dynamic demographic, social, economic and environmental change in New York and throughout the United States. The tasks of identifying, analyzing and solving the problems of suburbia are essential for the health of the country--and central to the National Center’s mission.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from more than 140 undergraduate and 155 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied human services, and honors studies, as well as a School of Law. With a student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, our professors teach small classes averaging 22 students that emphasize interaction, critical thinking and analysis. Hofstra offers a faculty whose highest priority is teaching excellence. The University also provides excellent facilities with state-of-the-art technology, extensive library resources and internship programs that match students’ interests and abilities with appropriate companies and organizations. The Hofstra community is driven, dynamic and energetic, helping students find and focus their strengths to prepare them for a successful future.