Thoughts on 2012 Election
On Wednesday night, Sarah Stone and I went to the Pohick Regional Library in Burke, Virginia to hear what Chris Cilliza had to say about the issues surrounding this year’s presidential election. If you do not know Chris, he has a Washington Post blog called The Fix and is a political contributor to MSNBC. Needless to say, the hour and a half discussion was interesting. Most, if not of all, of what he said is already known to political-minded people (like Sarah). I, on the other hand, needed to take notes and I am glad I did. I later went back to the notes and highlighted quotes I thought I might want to use in a blog post. However, instead of using them as quotes, I thought I would just use them as talking points to help summarize some of Chris’s discussion regarding the presidential election.
“Obama is as strong as he’s going to be while Romney is as weak as he’s going to be.” When Chris said strong, he meant cool, referring to Obama hitting three-pointers and singing Al Green on key. In a new CNN poll released last week, Obama’s approval rating is over fifty percent. At the same time, the exit polls are showing that voters are seeing the economy as the most important issue right now. It is hard to deny the truth that many voters like Obama. They find him to be likable and relatable and will vote him in for another term, regardless of their views toward the economy and direction of the country.
Chris was spot on about Romney being as weak as he’s going to be. In an article on ABC News, one poll shows that only 34% of Americans favor him for president and that is the lowest for any presidential candidate since 1984. His main challenges right now are low popularity when compared to Obama and low support in the Republican base. However, history proves that springtime favorability should not be taken seriously as Romney’s support base will grow once he becomes the GOP Presidential candidate. He is continuing to move in a positive direction as he has recently received endorsements from President George H.W. Bush, Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
“Republicans have a Hispanic vote problem to face.” Another area where Romney can gain support is with Hispanic voters. The Hispanic population has grown by 43% since 2000 and Hispanics tend to vote democratic. Obama won 67% of the Hispanic vote in the last election and Democrats won 60% of their vote in House races in 2010. As it stands now, this is a threat to the Republican Party because Hispanic communities are growing in predominantly Republican states like Arizona and Texas. Due to this influx of Democratic voters, political scientists are predicting these states, along with several other battleground states, will be Democratic states by the time the next election rolls around. However, this can actually be good news for Romney because Republican leaders are going to increase their efforts on connecting with Hispanics but not for the purpose of winning their votes. Many Republicans and political leaders like Jeb Bush, as quoted in one recent article, believe that Republicans and Hispanics naturally have a lot in common, like principals surrounding freedom, family, entrepreneurial ideals, religion, and quality education. If Republicans tout these similarities, a significant part of the population could find Romney more relatable and likeable than Obama and they still have plenty of time to do so.
“The 2012 election is going look more like 2004 than 2008.” This statement is obvious, but some people may still be anticipating another heated and entertaining battle to the White House, forgetting the many contrasts between this year and the last election year. Facebook users are probably noticing their Facebook friends gearing up and preparing to share or defend their political beliefs online, but there could be disappointment in the reduced level of excitement surrounding this year’s race due to what it is lacking. In 2008…
- Neither candidate was the incumbent President or Vice-President.
- It was following the onset of the economic crisis and both candidates ran on platforms of economy, change, reform, and domestic policy.
- The public’s perception of the current President was low – criticizing him for the Iraq War and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
- This was the first presidential election where one candidate was African American.
- This election utilized many social media websites for the first time, which increased the reach and engagement with voters between the ages of 18 and 29 as well as providing a platform for voters to express their opinions regarding the election.
- There was plenty of newsworthy controversy around one candidate for the opposing party to take advantage of.
- The media took sides, or so people felt. One 2008 poll showed that 70% of voters felt the media wanted Obama to win.
- There was a vast difference between the candidates. One Senator being fresh, charismatic, and inexperienced, while the other Senator lacking star power in comparison, but was a Vietnam War POW with experience.
“The George Allen and Tim Kaine Senate race will be the marquee race.” Virginia is a major battleground state and Chris says the nation should focus on this U.S. Senate race for a preview of the presidential outcome. This race will be interesting because Obama won Virginia in 2008 but Virginia elected a Republican governor in 2009 and won House seats in 2010. There is hope for both sides but the race between the two former governors of Virginia is currently too close to call. This should be worth paying attention to because this general election is going to be about state by state, not national.