Student Op-Eds

Week in Review: Battlegrounds

Cassandra Mensinger ‘15

With the Presidential race coming down to the final weeks, both candidates are battling for the votes of a handful of so-called “swing states.” The states in question are Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and New Hampshire. As both candidates accrue money from power players, also known as Super PACs, this money is being endlessly funneled into these battleground states in a final push for the vote. Television ads, rallies, and speeches are taking place throughout these key states, with each candidate trying to cater to a different audience. The female vote, the Hispanic vote, and the African-American vote are a few of the “special interest” votes the presidential candidates are vying for.

Ohio in particular is a state on which this race could swing. According to Thursday’s media panel of experts, which included Howard Fineman of the Washington Post, a Republican presidential candidate has never won the presidency without carrying Ohio. Romney began a three-stop tour of Ohio earlier this week, and President Obama ended a 40-hour tour of swing states in Ohio as well. Obama has been pressing voters to vote early, with the message that the American people can trust him (and in turn, cannot trust his opponent). Voters don’t register by party in Ohio, but parties count their totals based on the last primary in which a registered voter participated.

Obama is also relying heavily on the female vote. He needs large margins among women, which recently have been slipping. As Romney reshapes his candidacy with a more moderate message on foreign policy, abortion, and taxes, Obama’s lead among women declines. Though he is not expected to lose the women’s vote in any sense, Obama needs to use these last few weeks to reinforce his image as a strong supporter of women’s rights while reinforcing his opponent’s extremist views on women’s issues. After Obama’s harrowing defeat in the first debate, he is ending this election in a more aggressive stance than the country has normally seen. This became apparent during the final presidential debate in which Obama made several biting remarks towards Governor Romney.

With a lot of this election focused on the accruement of campaign finance, Romney has been able to raise $111.8 million over the two-week span from October 1 to October 17. Based mainly on his strong performances in the first two debates, this is the largest amount of money he has been able to raise in such a short period of time. He has exceeded the goals set by his campaign, and his success in the Denver debate drew in a surge of donations in an area normally in favor of Obama. Aides have said that the Romney campaign plans to spend nearly two-thirds of their remaining money on ads.

Looking at Obama’s campaign, much of the strategy has been based on winning the support of undecided voters. The President’s team is analyzing data to find out how to reach these voters and discover which way they are leaning. Whereas Obama’s 2008 campaign was filled with passion and excitement for a new era, the 2012 campaign has taken a more methodical approach to gaining votes. Obama’s campaign manager is not worried about the close election; he is focused on persuading the undecided and turning the voters out.

All this comes back to the central theme of each candidate trying to win over the battleground states. Obama’s 40-hour, 8-state tour hoped to kick-start his campaign as the race winds down, re-invigorating the passion and excitement it has seemed to lack for the past year. Focused exclusively on these eight swing states, Obama is retracing the path we saw in his 2008 campaign, working the ground game and get-out-the-vote effort among his constituencies. Why we haven’t seen this vigorous approach to the campaign until now is a question that is on everyone’s mind. Whether this last-minute effort to win the Presidency again will work in Obama’s favor, we will have to wait and see.