Abstract: With the 2012 Presidential elections less than one year away, speculations are high on who will be the winning candidate. The Democratic Party’s candidate Barack Obama is the incumbent and has some significant advantages. The Republican Party’s candidate is still unknown and there has not been a clear front-runner. Based on readings, polls, and expert opinion, the chances of Obama winning a second term are quite high for the 2012 election. |
On Tuesday November 6th, 2012 the presidential elections will take place to determine who the 45th president of the United States of America will be, this upcoming election is also personally important because it will be the first time my voice can be counted towards our future. During the last election in 2008, I was only a couple months away from turning 18 and could not vote in addition to being in Egypt during the time. Now I will be able vote in accordance to both the legal voting age of 18 that the Constitution requires as well as the imagined voting age of 21 that Rick Perry has established.
The primary candidate for the Democratic Party is the incumbent Barack Obama who is already advantageous and the primary candidate for the Republic Candidate is yet to be decided. The 2012 election is highly debated and its results are quite uncertain, with still a year left to go, it may be too early to predict who will win the presidential elections; but as of now, the Democratic Party seems to have the upper hand despite the current situations such as the economy, healthcare, and foreign policy.
As Christine Barbour and Gerald Wright indicate in the book “Keeping the Republic: Power and Citizenship in American Politics” the road to becoming president is just as hard as being president of the US. “Being president of the United States is undoubtedly a difficult challenge, but so is getting the job in the first place. It is a long, expensive, and grueling ‘road to the White House,’ as the media like to call it” (p. 383) The race for the presidency begins unofficially with what are known as the ‘invisible primaries’ which is a period in which a candidate sets himself up for popular support.
During this time, the candidate tries to gain name recognition, popular support, positive media attention and finances for the campaign. The idea being that this gives your campaign a head start and gives you an advantage in the pre-nomination phase which is known as front loading. Front loading is various states fight to try to hold their primaries first in order to gain medium exposure and power over nomination; this begins in January and runs right though until the summer where the party formally announces their chosen candidate.
The next steps are the primaries and the results of these in the different states determine the delegates who attend the National Party Convention. This stage of the campaign is the most expensive and fund-raising is vital. Only a candidate who has built up enough momentum during the ‘invisible primary’ and performs well in the early stages of the primary season will attract the funds required to keep their campaign going all the way through till the NPC.
Once the candidates are chosen, with the backing of PAC’s, they go on to the General Election where the president will be elected. Many factors influence who is elected as president including party identification, interest groups, policy opinions and the media. Although party identification has been important in previous presidential elections, it does not seem to be the decisive factor in the upcoming election. Party identifications are also not a tell tale sign of the result of the election because it is highly malleable depending on events.
Douglas Schwartz, the director of the Quinnipiac University poll says that: “Quinnipiac, however, believes that while party identification is relatively stable, it can change over time and fluctuate temporarily in reaction to events in the news. For example, if one of the parties is going through a particularly difficult time voters can temporarily feel “less Republican” or “less Democrat” than usual. ” (Quinnipiac Poll website) The last Quinnipiac poll of November 2 2011 showed that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a 13 point margin making it 10 points higher than October.
Schwartz speculated that the jump might have been due to the fact that the poll was taken during a week where the stock market was experiencing one of its best weeks. An addition reason may be due to the fact that some of the Republican candidates have been receiving a great amount of negative media coverage due to varying reasons lately. After the 2010 midterm election, the power shifted to the Republican Party being in power which might have an effect on the 2012 elections. In an article found in the Forum “The 2010 Midterm Elections: An Overview” by Andrew Busch, he argues that the midterm election will affect the outcome of 2010 election.
“This does not mean that Obama will have nothing more to show for his presidency, but any significant legislative achievements will be shared and not constructed on his terms. Second, the new political environment will affect 2012, though precisely how cannot be known. Both Obama and the Republicans will approach their relationship with the presidential election in mind. ” (Busch, p. 13) Some of the policies the Republican candidates are proposing are not well received with most citizens, even Republicans themselves.
“Voters do consider issues as they decide to vote… this means that issues must be central to the candidate’s strategy for being elected. ” (Barbour & Wright, p. 391) There are a multitude of issues surrounding the upcoming elections and each one being as important as the other. On the national front, the economy is the most important and the way the candidates present their plans for economic recovery contributes to their popularity and chances of being elected. Health care is also an important and highly debated issue in which although Obama had made many reforms, the Republicans are on a platform to change those reforms.
Education reform is another important issue, Obama was elected mostly by college students and his tackling of higher education as well as overall education may decide whether he gets elected again. Immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion are three issues that Republicans have a disadvantage over because of the nature of the ideology of Republicans being often quite conservative. Public opinion has shifted a bit in the case of these three issues and in the past, Republicans had support for these but it has dwindled and will put a strain on their candidature.
Two other issues are immigration and foreign policy; they are both also extremely important issues and will greatly influence the outcome of the election. On CNN, Election Center, they point out the importance of the economy and alludes to the fact that the Republican Party may have an upper hand on this issue. “President Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office is being defined, in many ways, by economic and fiscal policy issues. And the tea party movement – the conservative wing of the Republican Party
— has been hammering Obama’s economic and fiscal policy since 2009, pushing GOP candidates to hold firm on pledges not to raise taxes and to cut spending. ” (CNN) The economy has been at the forefront of our lives since the Bush administration. We have experienced the worst recession since the great depression, we are in a tremendous amount of debt and government deficit continues to increase. Although Obama has tried to implement many economic reforms to boost the economy, no immediate results are being seen and the unemployment rate is at an all time high of 8. 6%.
the economy and especially the unemployment has an negative correlation with approval ratings; as the employment rate increase, the approval rate decreases thus giving Obama and the Democratic Party a drawback in this area. The never wrong pundit analysis by Allan Lichtman also agrees that Obama has a losing point in this area. In the article “Never-Wrong pundit picks Obama to win in 2012,” although Lichtman predicts Obama to be the winner, he says in terms of the long-term economy “Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
Says Lichtman, “I discounted long term economy against Obama. Clearly we are in a recession. ” Obama loses this key. ” But in the case of the short term economy, it is undecided because the economy is not in a recession at the moment. According to Lichtman never failing equation since Reagan’s 1984 election, if the candidate has six or more of the thirteen defining keys, they win the election. The thirteen keys that Lichtman proposes are party mandate which Obama loses because the Republican party holds more seats in the House that the Democratic party.
The next key is contest which in this case, Obama wins because the Republican Party does not have one single strong enough candidate to challenge Obama and they are still divided among each other. As of now there are nine candidates: Bachman, Romney, Gingrich, Perry, Huntsman, Paul, Johnson, Roemer, and Santorum with Romney, Gingrich and Perry as the top three runners. Another article on the American Prospect supports this claim “Obama’s chief Republican competitors aren’t popular with the public, either.
As the moderate former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is best positioned to challenge Obama in a general election, but in a head-to-head matchup, even he trails Obama. ” (Bouie, American Prospect) The next two keys, incumbency and third party are both easy wins for Obama. The next key, policy change is also a win for Obama due to the tremendous changes he made in terms of health care, economy stimulus, gay rights etc… The next key of social unrest is a win for Obama because there is no big social change or national threat.
The next one is scandal which Obama again wins, “This administration has been squeaky clean. There’s nothing on scandal,” says Lichtman. In contrast to the Republican Party that has a lot of scandal concerning some of its candidates, most notably Herman Cain’s alleged sexual misbehavior charges. Keys ten and eleven deal with the foreign affairs side of the presidency, which are the failures and successes on the foreign affairs front. Obama wins both of these keys because of his plan to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as capturing and killing Osama Bin Laden.
The last two keys are related to a candidate’s charisma, incumbent charisma and challenger charisma. Lichtman gave Obama a no for charisma because he claims that Obama’s presidency has been a behind the scenes kind of leadership. “I did not give President Obama the incumbent charisma key. I counted it against him. He’s really led from behind. He didn’t really take the lead in the healthcare debate; he didn’t use his speaking ability to move the American people during the recession.
He’s lost his ability to connect since the 2008 election. ” Finally, Obama wins the challenger charisma because there has been no GOP candidate meeting this criterion. Thus, Obama wins nine out of thirteen keys gaining three more than needed and according to Lichtman making him and the Democratic Party the winner of the 2012 election. Although Lichtman has always been correct since Reagan, there are some other factors such as interest groups, voter demographics, media and funding that may affect the outcome of the elections.
In terms of funding, Obama and the Democratic Party also have the advantage in this field; if there is one thing Obama is good at, it’s campaigning and fund-raising effectively. Bouie says that “As of last week, the president had raised $85. 6 million for his re-election bid — twice as much as the entire Republican field has brought in. ” (The American Prospect) The demographics for voters have slightly changed but Obama’s two big supporting groups are still minorities, especially African-Americans and youth. According to the New York Times’ article “Is Obama Toast?
Handicapping the 2012 Election” by Nate Silver, Obama’s approval ratings dropped tremendously for the Jewish community. “Obama does indeed have a “Jewish problem. ” Polls find that his standing among Jews has deteriorated: only about 54 percent of them approved of his performance. He also has a Hispanic problem and a problem among the white working class. He even has, to a mild extent, an African-American problem: Obama’s approval ratings among black voters are still high, but down to about 80 percent from 90 percent.
” (New York Times) The demographic groups also have interest groups specifically the Jewish community with the Israel lobby. Although Obama has kept the US ties with Israel strong, some of the accusations of human rights violations against Israel has caused for the drop of approval within the Jewish community as well as decrease of campaign funding. In terms of media, Obama also has an upper hand, in the 2008 election; he effectively used the internet, the newest tool of media, and especially social networking which tremendously helped him win the presidency.
In the academic article by Jacqueline D. Lipton entitled “From Domain Names to Video Games: The Rise of the Internet in Presidential Elections” she says that the internet was essential to Obama’s win. “His win also underscores the importance of understanding today’s internet as a campaign tool. It is now a multi-directional networking tool. ” In conclusion, although all of the predictions, data and current situations seem to point to Obama and the Democratic Party winning the 2012 elections, we still have a year to go and tremendous change could happen in a year.
Whoever wins the 2012 election will have a handful of issues to tackle and the next five years will see a big shift in world power especially in relation to China which will have an effect on both our foreign policy as well as our domestic policy. As of now, we have to wait and see what will happen and optimistically, American citizens, me included will choose the best candidate to lead our country for the next four years. Bibliography Barbour, Christine and Wright, C Gerald. “Keeping the Republic: Power and Citizenship in American Politics. ” 3rd edition. 2009 Bedard, Paul.
Fox, Lauren. “Never-Wrong Pundit Picks Obama to Win in 2012. ” (August 2011) http://www. usnews. com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/08/30/never-wrong-pundit-picks-obama-to-win-in-2012 Bouie, Jamelle. “Why Obama Will Win in 2012. ” The American Prospect. (July 2011) http://prospect. org/article/why-obama-will-win-2012 Busch, Andrew E. “The 2010 Midterm Elections: An Overview,” The Forum: Vol. 8: Iss. 4, Article 2. http://www. bepress. com/forum/vol8/iss4/art2 (2010) CNN Election Center 2012. (2011) “Top Campaign Issues” http://www. cnn. com/ELECTION/2012/campaign-issues.
html Lipton, Jacqueline. “From Domain Names to Video Games: The Rise of the Internet in Presidential Elections. ” (2009) http://heinonline. org/HOL/LandingPage? collection=journals&handle=hein. journals/denlr86&div=31&id=&page= Schwartz, Doug. “The Party Identification Debate” (2011) http://quinnipiacpoll. wordpress. com/2011/11/03/the-party-identification-debate/ Silver, Nate. “Is Obama Toast? Handicapping the 2012 Election. ” The New York Times (November 2011) http://www. nytimes. com/2011/11/06/magazine/nate-silver-handicaps-2012-election. html? pagewanted=all.