NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Nov. 4 presidential election was an historical event on many different levels. Not only did Barack Obama become the first African American ever elected President, but he also galvanized the nation to get out and vote. And vote they did, in record numbers as some 130 million ballots were cast.

Vision Monday’s reporters were on the scene at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center at the Optical Laboratories Association’s annual meeting putting out the Nashville Record, the OLA Show Daily. Reporters took the opportunity to ask attendees and exhibitors to assess how consumer attitudes and the business climate in general might be affected by the election results. Although everyone agreed changes are imminent, not all respondents were feeling positive about what those changes might represent. Many noted that Obama faces daunting challenges as the economy continues to falter on both the domestic and global fronts.

Here’s what some attendees had to say about the news of the day including the election, Obama and the state of the economy.

Jeff La Plante, ABOM, Signet Armorlite
“With the election over, I think people are going to begin to relax. There’s been a lot of trepidation in the past few weeks. I was very happy with the voter turnout. It was good to see so many people get out and vote. As everyone relaxes I also think the stock market will begin to calm down. Another thing is that the Democrats are known for creating jobs, which could mean that 2009 could turn out to be a minor record year, given that the last three to four years have been relatively flat.”

David Persinger, Luxottica Retail

“I think the President doesn’t have a whole lot to do with consumers’ attitudes and the business climate. Congress has more of an affect on how things will change and so do the monetary policies that are set. People’s expectations about what will happen will affect things more than a new President.”

Jodi Nickerson, Optifacts
“I think people’s choice is clear and people’s attitudes will improve. Whether or not he’s [Obama] up for the job remains to be seen.”

Larry Clarke, The Vision Council

“I think people were ready for a change and this represents a change. A change in people’s outlook will result in better business for everyone. I don’t think the President can influence things that much in a short period of time. I believe attitudes from people abroad about Americans will improve in general.”

Jay Passey, Satisloh

“Consumers will still hold off on their spending until Jan. 1. I have a relative who works in the stock market, and he sees people selling off their stock in order to avoid capital gains tax. The economy is still down. But we have a new President and we need to give him a chance to implement changes.”

Bill Verde, VisionWeb

“I think Obama will have a very positive affect on the economy. People are happy and he has sparked the country, but there won’t be change overnight. I also think it will have a minor positive affect on the stock market. These things always affect optical because when people don’t have jobs they don’t have insurance, which means they aren’t buying. Personally, I am very pleased with the outcome of the election.”

Ed de Rojas, Quest Optical
“I had two business plans depending on who won the election. I think there will be huge changes: taxes will definitely go up and this will hurt small to medium-sized businesses. There will no longer be a balance and things will be skewed in one direction.”

Greg Ballew, Optical Distribution Corp.
“We are going to experience tax increases. Money is going to be tight. From our industry, people will put off buying glasses in order to buy food. I don’t think the Democrats can fix that. If Obama achieves any major accomplishments in the first four years, I’ll be shocked.”

View VM's 2008 Top Labs Report.