The turmoil in the U.S. financial markets is dominating the debate in
the presidential election campaign, and Democrat Barack Obama appears
to be gaining because of it. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has
more on the political impact of the crisis on Wall Street.
news headlines are hard to ignore. The Wall Street Journal newspaper
describes the financial upheaval as the worst crisis since the 1930s,
with no end in sight.
Voters tend to prefer Democrats during
tough economic times. And Democratic nominee Barack Obama has taken
every opportunity to link the country's economic woes to President Bush
and the Republican candidate who wants to succeed him, John McCain.
"This is somebody who has been in Congress for 26 years, who put seven
of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign.
And now he tells us that he is the one who is going to take on the 'old
boys network'. The 'old boys network.' In the McCain campaign that is
called a staff meeting," he said.
Senator McCain has had his
stumbles in trying to respond to the financial crisis. Early in the
week, he said the fundamentals of the economy were sound, despite the
McCain now says the economy is in crisis. But
he says Senator Obama and the Democratic-led Congress are partly
"My opponent sees an economic crisis as a political
opportunity instead of a time to lead. Senator Obama isn't change. He
is part of the problem in Washington," McCain said.
candidates have said they want to strengthen the government's role in
regulating the financial sector. McCain also wants an independent
commission to investigate the financial crisis similar to the panel
that probed the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
public opinion surveys show Obama retaking a slim lead over McCain. A
CBS News/New York Times poll has Obama ahead by a margin of 48 to 43
percent. The survey also found that voters believe Obama is more
likely to bring change to Washington. That margin was 65 to 37 percent.
also has a four point lead in a new Quinnipiac University poll and a
two-point edge in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll.
are focusing on economic issues, which has never been John McCain's
strength and where Americans are looking for change, and where the CBS
poll suggests one other problem for McCain, which is that a majority of
Americans see him as a typical Republican, not as an agent of change.
The change gap remains extremely strong, then Obama has a very
significant amount of traction [i.e., has the potential to gain
supporters]," said Norman Ornstein, a political analyst at the American
Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Polls have long shown that
voters consider the economy the number one issue in this year's
election, a factor that should favor the Democrats.
surged in the polls following the Republican convention and his pick of
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate.
Frederick is politics editor for the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
Frederick told VOA's Issues in the News program that Obama is still
trying to find a way to connect with voters on economic issues.
economy is front and center, but it is sort of a vague discontent that
people have that they can't really put their finger on. Obama has not
been able to focus what their discontent should be. The other thing
that has happened over the last year is that Iraq has really become
submerged as an issue and, of course, that has helped the Republicans
and hurt the Democrats," he said.
The selection of Governor Palin has energized Republicans and boosted McCain with some women voters.
some experts say the so-called "Palin poll bounce" that came after the
Republican convention is fading, and the race appears to be settling
back to what it was before both party conventions.
that means a tight race, with a slight advantage to Obama.
right now is very much as it was a few months ago and I believe the
underlying structure will likely leave it there for a while. And that
is a three or four point Obama advantage on a terrain that remains more
favorable to Democrats," he said.
McCain's prospects may suffer if the financial turmoil continues to dominate the political debate.
Ornstein and other analysts also caution to expect more surprises in
the final weeks of a presidential election campaign that has
continually defied predictions and expectations.