What they weren’t looking for was a partisan firebrand, on either side, Zogby said. That’s one reason President-elect Barack Obama didn’t start with a commanding lead in such a bad year for Republicans.
“Not one of those [top] characteristics were ideological; not one was partisan,” he said. “In essence, despite what polls were saying, that it was a shoo-in for a Democrat, that he’d just have to show up if Republicans nominated somebody not George W. Bush, this was going to be a competitive election, so long as that person could identify with several of those major characteristics.”
Zogby called Obama’s victory “transformative,” not only because of his race and the national crisis that framed the election, but because of the new voters who helped push him to victory. The 18- to 29-year-old voters who came out strongly for Obama are part of the “first global generation,” a group with concerns far different from their elders, Zogby said.
“They’re the least likely to say American culture is superior to cultures of the rest of the world,” he said. “They’re as likely to say, ‘I’m a citizen of planet Earth’ as the U.S. one-fourth say, ‘I expect not just hope to live and work in a foreign exotic capital at some point in my life.’ This is a group with a radically different outlook.”
Noting that most of the audience at the college was part of that generation, he told them he expected them not to get too cocky, but saw real potential for their generation to be active in public service, politics and philanthropy.