The most expensive election in United States history will end tomorrow as voters hit polls for their last chance to cast ballots in the 2012 election. Here is what to look for as we begin the countdown to the end of the presidential race.
Latino voters are a powerful force in swing states, where turnout is critical
A record 23.7 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, but voter turnout in the growing population has been lagging for various reasons. Latinos are a younger demographic who disproportionately lack the photo identifcation required to vote in some states. Latinos also awaited immigration overhaul, as Obama promised. The Latino vote is especially important in swing states like Nevada, where Latinos account for more than 15 percent of eligible voters.
Referenda reveal deep divide in national attitudes
A good chunk of the referenda we wrote about last week have conservative tones, like appealing Obamacare and affirmative action, protecting hunting and fishing rights, to restricting abortion and limiting marriage to that between a man and woman. At the same time, there are plenty of liberal referenda, including the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana, expansion of marriage to same-sex couples, outlawing of the death penalty, and legalization of physician-assisted suicide. This mixed bag shows that we’re a divided nation, swinging from the left to the right on the political spectrum.
Republicans outspent Democrats in Congress and are likely to keep the House
According to OpenSecrets.org, Republicans have spent more than Democrats in both the House and Senate. House Republicans spent more than $577 million, compared to Democrats’ $447 million. In the Senate, Republicans spent $348 million to Democrats’ $280 million. Ultimately, it looks as if Republicans will keep the House and Democrats the Senate, though by a small margin.
Women are another group that may tip election results
Women’s reproductive rights have been among the most controversial topics this year. From Todd Akin to Paul Ryan’s affiliation with Akin on redefining abortion, the GOP has been called out for a “war on women.” A collection of polls shows that while Romney holds a lead among men, Obama maintains a lead with women, who are more likely to vote and could determine the election.
Latinos are entering the race for office, showing political maturity
Three hundred and seventy three Latinos are running for state legislative offices in 39 states, reports the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). Most are running in states with large Latino populations, but nearly 30 percent are running in areas with emerging Latino communities. In Illinois, the incumbent Latino senators and representatives are up for re-election with no serious opposition.
Romney lacks favor among African-American voters, who supported Obama in 2008 by a vast majority
Obama won 96 percent of the African-American vote in 2008, but NPR reports that 2012 is a different story. With so much attention to Latino voters and women, African-Americans may not be mobilizing to vote as they did in 2008. However, reports indicate Romney has zero favor among African-American voters.
Romney’s “47 percent” comment sheds light on likely reality of election
Romney’s “47 percent” comment may have hurt his campaign, but one thing is clear — the election will likely be won by a narrow margin. Here’s what he said exactly:
“And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like.”
Whether it’s 5 to 10 percent that’ll decide the election, it will be close, which is why so much depends on swing states and marginal voters.
Tomorrow could be a repeat of 2000
The 2000 presidential election was the fourth and most recent time a candidate won the popular vote but lost the election under the Electoral College system. In 2000 then-Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 but lost the presidency to George W. Bush after the Florida recount and the Supreme Court decision in 2000.
Whoever wins has a lot of weight to carry
Without question, the biggest challenge faced by whoever wins the race will be the growing national debt, upon which so much else depends. Will taxes shoot up? What about Obamacare, women’s health, same-sex rights? Tomorrow’s results will determine all of that. A second term under Obama would continue Obamacare, end Bush-era taxes, and support same-sex marriage and abortion services. A Romney administration would repeal Obamacare, limit abortion services and try to ban same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment. But none of that would get done without battles from either the House’s Republicans or Senate’s Democrats.
Co-authored by Azra Halilovic