We're close to the finish line for the 2012 election, and what a finish it should be.
I’m a bona fide political junkie, so living in a swing state (Colorado) was rather enjoyable at first, but I’m ready for the votes to be counted.
This election is expected to be very close. If the initial swing states go as most pundits predict, with Florida, North Carolina and Virginia leaning toward Romney, then all eyes will shift to Wisconsin and Ohio. Ohio has been considered the key race since the beginning and it's poised to live up to that billing.
If things go as anticipated, and Obama loses in Ohio, he'll need to sweep Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Minnesota and Colorado. That's a tough but not impossible road, as the average of numerous polls has him in the lead or tied in those four states. If Romney loses Ohio, he’ll have to win Wisconsin and Colorado or Iowa. Wisconsin, which is considered a tossup at this point, has leaned Democrat in recent years.
The overriding message of the polls thus far is that the race is too close to call. The end result will rest on turnout, which is difficult to gauge ahead of the fact.
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Virtually all the polls are oversampling Democrats by 3-4% more than the Democrat/Republican ratio in the 2008 election. In part, this is justified, because of the growing Hispanic demographic. However, these same polls are finding much higher enthusiasm among Republicans compared to 2008, and lower enthusiasm among Democrats.
Racially, this country is more divided than ever. But among broader demos, such as young voters, women and independents, the advantage that Obama enjoyed in 2008 is lower this election, or non-existent.
Ohio is a great example of the difficulty that polling firms are having this year. Nearly one of every three Ohioans have already voted, and the early vote is perceived to dramatically favor Obama. But among those who have yet to vote, polling shows Romney leads by a significant margin.
As of Wednesday, however, despite the huge Democratic advantage in early voting, the number of Republican early voters was up by over 75,000 over 2008, while Democrat early voters are down by nearly 180,000. Consider that Obama took Ohio in 2008 by 260,000 votes, and you can see that this race is very close and why it will be determined by turnout.
Don’t believe the polls, get out and vote; your vote will definitely matter this year. If Romney fails to carry Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, the election will be over early. If he does take those early swing states, all eyes will be on Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. Yes, this election is so close that New Hampshire's four electoral votes could play a big role under several scenarios.
Once again, this election will bring up the benefits or disadvantages of the Electoral College. According to the website, Real Clear Politics, if it takes the average of all the polls being conducted and considers it 100% accurate, Obama would win the presidency and Romney would win the popular vote.
I’ve always been a strong proponent of the concept of a representative democracy over a pure democracy, but I’m not a Republican in California, or a Democrat in Texas, who knows my vote will be neutralized. The problem isn't the Electoral College as much as it is how deeply partisan we've become; even the rhetoric has deteriorated.
We need leadership and a willingness to find bipartisan solutions, but it's difficult to imagine that happening given today’s dynamics. I tend to be highly partisan and even a bit of an ideologue, but I do strive to stay focused on the policy and paradigm differences, which are real and dramatic. The tone of this election, however, has been rightly called the campaign of personal destruction.
I’m not even surprised by the tone of the campaign; the experts all predicted it would be like this. What I find particularly disappointing, however, is the tone of citizens; some are so shrill and irrational.
I admire both Romney and Obama for the people they are, for the commitment they've shown to this country, and for the depth of their convictions. I happen to agree with one of the candidate’s policies far more than the other. Two men could hardly be more different, so I urge you to vote, but vote on their vision and records, not the false narratives they have been surrounded with.