Election '08 Scene Setter

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

10/31/2007 - A year before the 2008 presidential election, most major national opinion trends decidedly favor the Democrats. The public is unhappier with the nation’s course and much more disapproving of President Bush than it was four years ago. In turn, many more independent voters now lean Democratic, resulting in a wide 50%-36% party affiliation advantage for the Democrats. Republicans trail the Democrats as the party of change and good governance to the same degree that they did prior to their defeat in the midterm elections, in spite of rising discontent with the Democratic-led Congress.

Issue concerns also favor the Democrats. Along with Iraq, the economy, health care and education rate as the most important issues for voters. Compared with the 2004 presidential campaign, voters now place less importance on the issues that have helped foster Republican political unity – including terrorism, gay marriage and abortion.

The political climate appears to be affecting the morale of the base of both parties. The Democrats are more positive and more enthused than are Republicans. And they are much more satisfied with their field of candidates. Hillary Clinton remains the clear favorite for the Democratic nomination. Clinton leads Barack Obama, her closest rival, by 45%-24%. Clinton holds a substantial advantage over all rivals among key Democratic voter groups, including liberals and African-Americans.

Read full report A Year Ahead, Republicans Face Tough Political Terrain on Pew Research Center for People and the Press Web site.

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