2009 January 22 Thursday
Most Groups Expect To Gain Influence Under Obama

Most people see themselves as becoming more influential now that Barack Obama has ascended to the US Presidency.

In the latest Pew Research survey, conducted Jan. 7-11, 47% said that people like themselves would gain influence under Barack Obama, 18% said they would lose influence, and 29% said they would not be affected. The survey found that overwhelming majorities of African Americans (79%) and other core Democratic groups said that people like themselves would gain influence under the new administration1.

But by nearly two-to-one (41% to 22%), more whites said they will gain rather than lose influence under Obama; 32% of whites say they will not be affected. White voters supported John McCain over Obama by 55% to 43%, according to exit polls conducted by the National Election Pool.

White evangelical Protestants were one of McCain's strongest groups last November; 74% supported McCain, while 24% backed Obama. Yet 37% of white evangelicals say that people like themselves will gain influence under Obama, compared with 31% who say they will lose influence and 27% who say they will not be affected.

What are the odds of all these people being right? I figure slim to none.

I think Bush was perceived (accurately in many cases) as impervious to reason. Obama comes across as seeking expert opinion and solicitous of the views of others. So people feel like he listens to them. This makes them feel more powerful and influential.

I've read that in person Bill Clinton comes across as very attentive and sympathetic to whichever view someone else is presenting. So people feel listened to by Clinton. Obama has some of that charm as well.

More whites feel like they are gaining influence with the transition from Bush to Obama than felt that way with the transition from Clinton to Bush.

Somewhat more whites say people like themselves will gain influence under Obama than expressed that view in January 2001 regarding Bush (41% vs. 35%). Hispanics, on balance, said they would gain influence under Bush, but a far greater percentage of Hispanics today believe that people like themselves will benefit under Obama (66% today vs. 38% in January 2001).

Some of the same groups had more people saying they'd gain than lose influence during each of these transitions. So are they all becoming more influential during each transition? I don't think so. I think this is all just delusion driven by the desire to feel higher in status and power.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 January 22 08:41 PM  Politics Human Nature

Robert Hume said at January 23, 2009 2:13 PM:

These opinions may not be as "all the children are above average" as they seem.

For example if most whites feel that a small number of neocons have hijacked US foreign policy, then they may rationally feel that they have more influence if Obama goes against the neocons; even though Obama "doesn't look like" them.

That's how I feel.

Anonymous said at January 23, 2009 4:40 PM:

This really is a fantasy. There are 435 reps and 100 senators. For 300 million people. There's no way they can "represent" them. They are bought by lobbyists.

Even at the local level in a city of 100K people, the council members are bought by real estate developers. The idea that the average person gets any real representation in a democracy is a fantasy. An appealing one, but still, a pretty lie.

averros said at January 24, 2009 8:20 PM:

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

...whereby sellers have no intention of ever delivering the goods.

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