By Brinda Gurumoorthy
The spirit of election season is in the air. November 6th is fast approaching, so both President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are making efforts to convince voters that they would be the best person to lead the United States through its next chapter. Online polls fluctuate greatly; one day Obama has the upper hand in the polls, but the next day Romney takes the lead.
The American voting system is similar to that of a republic; in essence, American citizens vote for either Obama or Romney, and then representatives in each state correspondingly vote in the Electoral College.For instance, if Obama wins in New Jersey, all fourteen New Jersey electors vote for Obama. The number of electoral voters per state varies based on state population; California, the most populous state, has fifty-five voters while Wyoming, the least populous state, only has three. Ultimately, the votes of electors decide who will be the next President of the United States, so the Electoral College is a hot topic as Election Day approaches. Most states have formed clear political leanings by now. Many are strongly Republican or strongly Democrat, but there are a few states that are divided. These are called “toss-up” states. As per the New York Times Electoral Map, President Obama has 185 solid votes and 52 votes leaning in his favor, while Governor Romney has 168 solid votes and 38 leaning in his favor. Obama has a slight lead, but that is subject to change. Currently, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania are leaning Democrat. On the other hand, Nebraska, North Carolina, Indiana, and Arizona are showing Republican tendencies. The toss-up states that may sway the election in favor of one candidate or the other are Colorado, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada. Both candidates are more concerned with winning political favor in these states because they may be the determining factor in the Electoral College. Both Obama and Romney must instill trust in the voters of swing states in order to maximize voter turnout.
Florida is the most populous toss-up state, which is why it has twenty-nine electoral votes. Although Obama won Florida’s electoral votes in 2008, Florida residents have suffered from an abysmally slow economic recovery and a large number of home foreclosures. Right now, since there are many conservative retirees who live in Florida, Mitt Romney may have hope of winning majority of votes, but there is also a large Hispanic population that he must win over in order to gain Florida’s twenty-nine votes. Just as Florida’s votes were recounted and ultimately dictated whether George W. Bush or Al Gore won the 2000 Presidential election, it also has an major impact on the 2012 election. President Obama, remembering the influence of Florida’s votes in 2000, used that information to his advantage. He published a TV advertisement which discussed the Florida electoral recount in 2000; claiming that it was “the difference between what was and what could have been”, the ad compels voters to make their voice heard.
Likewise, Mitt Romney went on an Ohio bus tour to convince the residents of Ohio that he was going to be the catalyst for change. Ohio has eighteen electoral votes, therefore its influence on the election may be fairly substantial. There are conservative areas of Ohio, but Ohio’s economy is steadily improving, so that may motivate Democrat voters. Romney seized the chance to take action and inspire voters. Casting Obama as the “status quo” candidate, Romney promised to accelerate the pace of economic growth and alleviate unemployment problems. He, too, urged Ohio residents to spread the message about the elections and convince others to use their powers of voting. Romney also made a point to mention poor quality of public education and, of course, US debt, and he vowed many times that “big change” was on its way. Is he right? It will be a while before America knows the answer, but until then Romney wants to make sure he instills confidence in voters.
The presidential debates have finished, and now both Obama and Romney are on the home stretch of 2012 election. Both candidates have fervent supporters, and both get ridiculed relentlessly on the internet; essentially the race is neck and neck. Clearly, both candidates are making an effort to focus their energy on the swing states, and no matter who is currently leading in the polls, the race is extremely close. The United States was founded upon the idea of the people choosing their leaders, and that philosophy is apparent in today’s election process. As the United States battles a sluggish recovery, a hefty unemployment rate, and trillions of dollars of debt, Americans want a leader who will bring change. Both candidates have proposed ways to bring about change, but the path America takes next will only be determined on Election Day.