Election USA, 2012: A nail biting countdown

| October 27, 2012

Contributing writer Dickson Igwe

This is the home stretch, and the outcome of the US election depends upon a small number of uncommitted voters in Florida and Ohio

Before the First US Presidential Election debate on October 3, 2012, President Barack Obama appeared to be coasting to a second term. Victory appeared assured. But after a disastrous performance by the Leader of the Free World, watched by tens of millions of American voters, all bets were off.

If first impressions count, that first debate cost the Democrats ‘big time.’ Mitt Romney had gained the momentum after the showdown, at least up and until the second and final debates. In the first debate Romney showed himself a likeable, moderate candidate: not a wealthy man with an uncanny ability to be all things to all men, and possessing a robotic personality.

And women voters, the greatest asset possessed by the Democrats, and prior to the first debate, overwhelmingly on Barack’s side, began moving towards the Republican candidate in droves.  The final debate on foreign policy may have stopped the bleeding however, with a resolute and strong rendition by the Commander in Chief. But Romney still appears to have momentum.

Nevertheless, this presidential contest and race, before the counting of ballots begins and ends in the first week of November, is currently a dead heat.  No one can predict the outcome. And all US Presidential Elections are crucial affairs, affecting not just the USA, but the trajectory of the entire planet, economically and socially. For these West Indies, what happens in the USA affects the standard of living and quality of life of all inhabitants.

And Romney is ahead, according to an aggregate of opinion polls by a single point. However, the electoral math which determines that it is not the popular vote that counts, but the Electoral College, or votes of electors in specific areas, in a handful of key states like Ohio and Florida, appears to favor the President.

A nail-biting President Obama. Photo courtesy msnbc.msn.com

Another factor is which party is more effective in getting out their base on voting day.  And that may be to Romney’s advantage.  The Republican base appears more energized than the Democratic base. This became clear after the first debate.  And Republican voters remain excited. Excited voters vote. However, the Democratic Party has a very good voter registration machine.

The story among many Republicans is that Romney increasingly appears ‘Reaganesque,’ and possesses a narrative for the future, the current incumbent simply doesn’t have. However, the Democrats have a better ground game, and in this election knocking on as many doors, and meeting as many voters face to face as possible, could be the difference to a White House on Pennsylvania Avenue or 4 years hunting in the wilderness.

Very importantly, key demographics appear to favor President Obama.  The USA today is highly polarized. It is a divided society and nation. Right versus left: rich versus the middle class. White males and blue collar types, including white evangelicals, favour the Republican Candidate.

On the other hand, the President is preferred overwhelmingly by blacks who vote 90% Democrat, a swiftly growing Latino population, white liberals or white intellectuals, and up until the first debate women, especially single parent and working females.

Both parties are supported by these massive demographics, on either side of a widening and deepening chasm.  This is the great divide at the root of partisanship, gridlock, and deadlock, in contemporary American politics.

The parity in voter support between parties and their true strength lies in their support from these core groups of voters: their base of support. Getting them out on Election Day is the most important component of any hope of election victory.  And both the Republicans and Democrats must keep these demographics on their side to have any hope of triumph. That is why exciting and energizing the base is so critical. Any of these groups who decide to stay at home on voting day, and the side they belong to is toast.

Then there is geography. The Northeast has typically been Democratic in past years, but so too California. On the other hand Texas and motley of Southern and mid and north western states, are comfortably Republican. That means the Candidates will focus their campaigns on a handful of swing states that can go either way, depending.

In any event, it appears that the race boils down to two states: Ohio and Florida. Ohio possesses 20 electoral votes and Florida 29. The race is statistically tied in both states, although the President is slightly ahead in Ohio. A small number of voters in these two states will decide which side wins the prized electoral votes of either state, and so too the Presidency.

The latest polls still show Barack Obama ahead in Ohio by a few points and tied with Romney in Florida. Know this: no Republican candidate has won the White House without winning Ohio. On the other hand, there is a possibility that Obama could lose Ohio and still win the election.

All things being equal, the race will be decided by a small number of undecided voters in Florida and Ohio. And that may be bad news for Barack Obama. Typically, according to some pundits, undecided voters and independents vote for the challenger,

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