Contra a lot of post-election assessments, Joel Benenson, President Obama's chief pollster in 2012 and 2008, argues in a New York Times op-ed Thursday that it wasn't demographics but values that helped re-elect Obama on Tuesday. "The president’s victory was a triumph of vision, not of demographics," Benenson writes. "He won because he articulated a set of values that define an America that the majority of us wish to live in."
Moreover, Mr. Obama’s strength on the economy was not about “empathy,” as many experts asserted. Rather, for average working-class and middle-class Americans who have believed for nearly a decade that the economic system in America had fallen out of balance for people like them, the president’s personal story and policies engendered trust because they connected with voters’ lives, aspirations, and beliefs about what it would take to create the future they wanted. That trust was the central economic test in this election.
That is why, despite the credit given to Mr. Romney for “understanding” the economy — a phrasing that spoke to a technical understanding — Mr. Obama was always significantly more trusted on qualities that matter to working Americans. In fact, independent voters in our survey, by 54 to 40, said it was more important for a president to have “the willingness to fight for middle-class families” rather than a “technical understanding of the economy.”
And when asked what the key to growing our economy was, nearly two in three voters said it was building a strong middle class over creating a “healthy climate for business.”