What happens if you put the most influential and important people in the room, and ask questions about politics and the economy? Some interesting answers.
For instance, President Obama will be reelected in 2012. But nothing will get done until then. And all that non-problem-solving still won’t help Sarah Palin.
These are some conclusions from a new Daily Beast poll of attendees at the first annual Daily Beast Innovators Summit, which took place last week in New Orleans. Seventy-three attendees, encompassing innovators in business, government, academia, media and the nonprofit sector, took the survey. Let's sift through the results:
Overall, 53 percent of attendees who participated in the survey said that Obama will be reelected, while 22 percent disagreed, and 25 percent were not sure.
There are stark divisions by party. Some 74 percent of Democrats said that he will be reelected while 58 percent of Republicans say he will not be reelected. Independents say that the president will be reelected, 61 percent to 22 percent. Those in the media said they believe Obama will be reelected the most at 59 percent, while those in corporate life are much more skeptical, at 38 percent.
And while New York magazine’s cover story last week details why and how Sarah Palin could be our next president, attendees at The Daily Beast Innovators Summit did not even think that she will get the nomination. Only 7 percent said they believe Palin will be the Republican Party’s nominee in 2012 while 78 percent do not think she will be their nominee, despite the success of the candidates she has endorsed in Republican primaries this year.
Turning to November’s congressional elections, participants across the board agreed that the Republicans will gain control of the House: 66 percent say Republicans will win the House in next Tuesday’s midterm elections, while only 16 percent say Democrats will hold on to control.
There is little confidence that Congress has the political will to solve our problems.
Participants also agreed about who will control the Senate: 58 percent say control will remain in the Democrats’ hands, while 19 percent say that the Republicans will win control.
There are stark differences in opinion on this by party. Some 61 percent of Democrats say they will hold on to the Senate, while Republicans think that their Party will gain control, 42 percent to 33 percent. Independents side with the Democrats, as close to two-thirds (65 percent) say the Democrats will control the Senate.
Respondents are generally negative in regard to the direction of the country: 53 percent say things in the country are on the wrong track, while just 23 percent say they are headed in the right direction. Journalists, nonprofit, and corporate executives all agreed, and those in all income brackets agree as well.
That being said, there is some sense that the economy will improve in the next 12 months. Some 36 percent say the economy will get better, only 16 percent say it will get worse, and 45 percent say it will stay the same. By 32 percent to 10 percent, Democrats believe it will get better rather than worse. Republicans are much more pessimistic and say it will get worse, not better, by 50 percent to 25 percent. Independents are most optimistic: 43 percent said they believe the economy will get better.
Surprisingly, those in the lower income brackets are most optimistic that the economy will improve. Those making under $100,000 say by a 38 percent to 15 percent margin that it will get better not worse, and those making $100,000-$200,000 say it will get better not worse, 53 percent to 12 percent. The most affluent are the most pessimistic: 27 percent of those making $200,000-$500,000 and one-quarter of those making more than $500,000 say the economy will get better in the next year.
Across the board, participants are willing to pay more taxes in the future, 56 percent to 32 percent. Those over age 40 feel this way decisively, while those under 40 are much more agnostic. A 57 percent to 43 percent majority of those under age 30 say they are unwilling to pay more taxes, while those over age 65, by 63 percent to 13 percent, say they are willing.
There are clear party differences on this question as well. By 74 percent to 13 percent, Democrats say they are willing to pay more taxes. Republicans are not willing to by a 58 percent to 25 percent margin. Independents side with the Democrats by a narrower margin, 57 percent to 39 percent.
The audience of innovators was mixed on whether the period of economic primacy for the U.S. is over. A narrow 44 percent to 40 percent plurality says that our world economic leadership has ended. Interestingly, Democrats and Republicans divided evenly on this, with independents decisively saying that our period of leadership has not ended, 57 percent to 39 percent.
Those in income brackets making less than $500,000 a year, either by a plurality or a majority, say that our economic primacy has ended. Those making more than $500,000 asserted that our period of primacy has not ended, 57 percent to 25 percent.
Interestingly, corporate executives were most skeptical about our world economic leadership, with 69 percent rejecting that notion. However, those working in journalism, a notoriously pessimistic group, say our period of economic primacy has not ended, 45 percent to 34 percent.
Further, respondents are decidedly skeptical of our ability to solve our own problems: 60 percent of attendees said we lack the political will to solve our problems, while one-quarter said that we have the political will. Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all in agreement.
Those over age 65 divide evenly on whether we have the will to solve our problems. Those ages 30-65 believe strongly that we lack the necessary political will, and attendees under age 30 are undecided, with 57 percent saying they are unsure, and a narrow 29 percent to 14 percent plurality saying that we do have the political will.
Finally, there is just as little confidence that we will be able to solve our problems in the next Congress. Two-thirds (67 percent) of participants say that our serious economic and budgetary problems will remain unresolved until after the 2012 election. Attendees of all parties, age categories, genders and income brackets are in agreement on this subject.
Who are the people who attended the conference?
• 29% are under age 40, 25% are ages 40-49, 34% are ages 50-64, and 11% are over age 65.
• 49% are male and 51% are female.
• 73% are white, 8% are African American, 8% are Asian, 4% are Hispanic, and 3% are some other racial or ethnic heritage.
• 42% are Democrats, 16% are Republicans, and 40% are either independents or not sure of their party affiliation.
• 38% are liberals, 51% are moderates, and 8% are conservative.
• 40% work in journalism, advertising, public relations or communications, 19% work in non-profit organizations, 18% work in business, and 19% work in another profession.
• 18% earn less than $100,000 annually, 23% earn $100,000-$200,000, 15% earn $200,000-$500,000, and 38% earn more than $500,000.
In conclusion, we learned that participants who attended the conference are cautiously optimistic about the economy, deeply pessimistic about the political system, and absolutely convinced, notwithstanding the difficulties of this year, that the president will be reelected in 2012.
The Daily Beast poll of 73 attendees at the first annual Reboot America! Innovators Summit, was conducted by Douglas E. Schoen on Friday, October 23, 2010. The results are representative of those business, professional and media leaders who attended this conference.
Douglas Schoen is a political strategist and author of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins. Schoen has worked on numerous campaigns, including those of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Evan Bayh, Tony Blair, and Ed Koch.