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The Barack Bounce

DW staff (nda)
November 5, 2008

If Barack Obama can make it on Wall Street, he can make it anywhere -- and signs were Tuesday that the Democrat was conquering even this Republican holy of holies.

Wall St. in New York
The financial crisis has convinced some that a change is needed at the topImage: AP

Wearing a blue suit and carrying a briefcase, 65-year-old corporate lawyer Richard George does not resemble the typical Obama fan.

But George, part of the frantic early morning crowd outside the New York Stock Exchange, said the US economic meltdown had undone old certainties.

"Six months ago I'd have said Obama could never be elected. Now I think he can and I'm surprised how many people in the finance industry are for him," he said. "In this kind of economy, even Republicans are getting scared."

Crossing party lines

Insurance broker Socorro Morales, said she was "crossing party lines."

"Taxes concern me, obviously, since I'm on Wall Street, but I think Obama's intelligence outweighs those issues," said Morales, impeccably dressed in a black suit and carrying a large Yves Saint Laurent handbag.

"I made my decision when I saw Obama and McCain's reaction to the economic crisis. Obama was steadier."

Those attitudes echo what analysts call a sea change across the United States, with opinion polls pointing to a heavy victory for Obama.

Wall Street has traditionally backed the Republican Party, which is seen as the better guarantor of low taxes and business friendly policies.

One McCain supporter, Rita Molton, said she believed the old bomber pilot could still rescue the country.

"He's a hero and I think we should give him the chance," said Molton, who works as a nurse in a corporate office. "This is his last mission."

Another McCain supporter, computer specialist Chris Messineo, 24, said: "I don't believe in Obama's tax plans. I don't believe in redistributing wealth. I believe in the trickle down. I believe that stimulating the economy will create more jobs."

Wall St. backing Obama

However, Messineo also said he was "surprised" by the level of backing from Wall Streeters for Obama.

One fervent supporter is real estate broker Angelo Rodriguez, who stopped outside the stock exchange to admire a sidewalk display of Obama and McCain paintings.

"Everyone is so excited," said Rodriguez, 29, likening Obama to the iconic, assassinated president of the early 1960s, John F. Kennedy. "This is our Kennedy. It's a great time to be alive."

The market itself surged Wednesday, with the Dow Jones up 3.25 percent.

But that does not mean the jitters are over.

New president has a big job on his hands

Leading commentator Art Cashin wrote Tuesday that one of the first things Obama or McCain must do is appoint "an economic czar" to coordinate with the current leadership at the Federal Reserve.

"The financial crisis cannot abide a vacuum," Cashin said in his daily commentary for investors.

And although not everyone on Wall Street is making big money, they are all wondering what happens next.

Alvin Freeman, wearing an advertising sandwich board that read "WE BUY GOLD," shared a common conspiracy theory that Obama, vying to be the first black US president, will somehow be cheated.

"If they go by what the people want, he will be president. But if there's trickery then he won't," said Freeman, 51, who is also black. "But he must win. It's like an act of God."

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