Financial Crisis Benefits Obama

But nervous voters may shift to McCain.

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We know that Americans have lost millions in the stock market in recent weeks, but how will that affect the election? Will the fact that you've lost money, or feel less certain about the economy, change your vote?

Political experts say that for some voters at least, the answer is yes. Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, points out that historically, voters hold the party of the president responsible for bad economic times, and that hurts Sen. John McCain. He says, "We've had elections with bad economic conditions, during periods of war, and in periods of an unpopular president. In virtually all of those times, the opposition party has managed to win a comfortable election." Since all three of these situations are in effect now, Mann expects a victory for Sen. Barack Obama.

Regardless of who wins the election, voters have already come out ahead, because the crisis forced both campaigns to get more serious, says Kellyanne Conway, president of the Polling Company. Before the financial crisis hit, the presidential campaigns centered on lipstick and pigs. Now, Conway says, "there's no room for discussion about how many houses you own or which pig you were referring to." Instead, the candidates are focused on the economy, which is the topic, she says, voters care about most.

Conway says it's less clear which candidate will ultimately benefit from the country's economic problems. While Sen. John McCain's poll numbers have fallen in recent weeks, Conway says he could ultimately come out ahead if voters become nervous and choose to go with "experience" over "change."

Has the financial crisis changed your vote?