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New Analysis Shows 2008 Could be Watershed Election

Rising anxiety over the loss of the American Dream for future generations is shaping the views and potential voting behaviors of swing voters, according to a memo released in December 2007 by Change to Win. The analysis, conducted by Lake Research Partners, found that the cornerstones of the American Dream—a good job with wages that can support a family, affordable health care, the opportunity for the next generation to succeed, and a secure and dignified retirement—are weighing heavily in determining the votes of swing voters and could produce a dramatic change in the 2008 election that has not been seen since 1980.

The majority of swing voters see the American Dream as being harder to achieve today than in the past. Only 16 percent think the next generation will be better off and 48 percent think the next generation will be worse off. An overwhelming majority of voters—nearly 60 percent—feel that the economy has gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track. And over 90 percent of swing voters would like to see a change from the policies of the past seven years. Yet many do not believe that their concerns are being addressed or that any of the candidates have a plan to restore the American Dream.

"There is a potential for a broad base change due to a dramatic paradigm shift toward the basic set of values anchored in the fundamentals of the American Dream, a good job, affordable health care and retirement security," said Lake Research Partners president Celinda Lake on a news conference call with reporters.

Comprising nearly one-third of the electorate, swing voters are younger, whiter and slightly more male than the voting population as a whole, and have not committed to a party or candidate. Over 80 percent think government has a responsibility to restore the American Dream and help people who work hard to achieve it—signifying a dramatic shift in public attitudes from the prevailing sentiment expressed by Ronald Reagan in 1980, which was that "government is not the solution, government is the problem."

More than two-thirds of swing voters choose economic security as more important to them than economic opportunity, which has brought an increase in demand for government action and union support. The shift toward economic security is largely a result of swing voters seeing greedy corporate behavior as the greatest threat to the American Dream. Swing voters strongly believe that corporations and CEOs have more influence than working people, that they do not share the profits with workers, that multinational corporations use their power to drive down wages, and that government has not done enough to rein in greedy and unethical corporate conduct. Further, unions are enjoying growing support among swing voters and are seen as a means to achieving the American Dream.

To learn more about this survey, visit

Elsewhere on the Web

Economic Policy Institute
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Swing Voters Want Change


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