It provides a very good analysis of the voting patterns that resulted in the Obama victory, as well as draws some legislative implications based on these patterns:
Moderates - not liberals - Made Barack Obama President
By Douglas Schoen
Thursday, November 6th 2008, 4:00 AM
The general consensus of Election Night commentators was that our center-right country has become a center-left country. I must offer what will be, for liberals, a buzz kill: Barack Obama owes his victory not to the left, but to the middle. As he sets out to govern, he forgets that at his peril.
First, and probably most important, the ideological composition of the electorate this year was virtually identical to that of 2004. This year, 22% of voters were liberals, 44% were moderates and 34% were conservatives. In 2004, 21% were liberals, 45% were moderates and 34% were conservatives.
In the voting booth, it was moderates who made the difference. They had given John Kerry a 9-point advantage in 2004; in 2008, they gave Obama a 21-point advantage. That change, in and of itself, is worth most of the swing from Kerry's narrow loss to Obama's big victory.
And look at the voting behavior of self-described conservatives. Here, Obama picked up probably an additional 1-1/2% of the total vote by increasing his share to 20% from Kerry's 15%. Liberals, by contrast, were virtually identical in their levels of support from Kerry to Obama.
The real change between 2004 and 2008 came in the number of people calling themselves Democrats. They had been basically equal in numbers to Republican identifiers in 2004. In this election, exit polls reported self-declared Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 39% to 32%.
Translation: The country has not shifted further left. Rather, in all likelihood, the Democratic Party has shifted further right.
But what about those much talked about, map-changing wild cards - African-Americans and young voters?
African-Americans had been 11% of the electorate in 2004. In this election, they were 12%. Obama did slightly better than Kerry among them, but not by enough to have materially impacted the outcome.
And youth? In 2004, 18- to 29-year-olds made up 17% of the electorate. They were 18% in 2008. While again here Obama did better than Kerry, this would account for only a point or two.
The hidden story of the exit polls, in fact, is that there remains real doubt about expansive government programs, tax increases and, to a lesser extent, Obama himself. A bare majority, 51%, said that government should do more to solve our problems; 43% said that the government is currently doing too much.
When asked about an Obama presidency, 30% said that they were excited by it, while 20% said that they were concerned and a quarter said that they were scared. So, though "hope" is one of the buzzwords of the Obama campaign, there's also palpable fear out there.
What conclusion then, should Obama and the Democratic Congress draw from all this?
One: There is little appetite for a supersized Democratic agenda. Polling does show support for another stimulus program and initiatives to help beleaguered homeowners. But it is hard to see how other Obama initiatives like raising the capital gains tax rate or raising the tax on dividends in the face of a bitter recession will be well-received by an already nervous electorate.
Two: At a time when our deficit is approaching $1 trillion, the public will not be receptive to massive spending programs. On issues of great importance like health care, the electorate is looking for an incremental approach rather than a sweeping effort to cover all 47 million uninsured Americans.
Finally, Democrats must resist the temptation to take on symbolic issues that appeal to the left and divide the country. The failure of pro-gay marriage initiatives around the country should give pause to similar initiatives on the federal level, and the mixed results on affirmative action suggest how important it is for Obama to initiate social change on a class basis, rather than a racial basis.
America has not changed as much as many commentators think it has. Rather, there has been a rejection of George Bush and failed Republican ideas. Carefully crafted bipartisan policies offer the greatest chance to strengthen America and rebuild our battered national psyche.
Schoen, who was President Bill Clinton's pollster in 1996, is author of "The Power of the Vote."