2012 will be a close election. By now, even though Newt Gingrich is surging in the polls, gaining momentum, and is even leading in Florida by some accounts, Mitt Romney is still the likely nominee of the Republican Party. That means that in November, it’ll be a choice between Romney and Obama- a choice, not a referendum as some may claim.Although all groups are important, there are 4 in particular that are crucial to this election: Hispanics, blue-collar whites, African Americans, and seniors. The first three are especially critical in keeping certain parts of the map blue, while seniors can play a role in putting Obama over the top in some borderline cases. In this map, I’ve divided the area into three regions. The blue “Rust Belt” states are where blue-collar workers will play the deciding role. The purple areas are where Hispanics can put Obama over the top. The red areas are places where turnout will be key for Obama, particularly among African Americans. Blue-collar workers have never loved Obama. In Pennsylvania, an important swing state, he lost them by 15% last election. Luckily for him, they don’t love Romney. Both Obama and Romney are millionaires and have been criticized as being elitist. Given the choice between the two of them, I’d say that they’d be more likely to choose Obama over Romney, especially when his record on Bain Capital becomes more and more publicized in those Rust Belt states- which is something that the Obama campaign will be doing. If Obama can keep his margin of defeat among blue-collar whites down in those states, or even match Romney’s performance among them, he should be able to keep Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in his column, while writing off Indiana as a probable loss. Democrats saw revived energy in Wisconsin when they recalled two state senators in the summer, in Ohio when they beat an anti-union Senate Bill 5 by popular referendum with a vote of 61.33% against it, and once again in Wisconsin when they turned in one million signatures to recall Governor Scott Walker this month. If that energy keeps up until November, it will only help Obama win those states, but also help senators in those areas struggling for re-election. Scott Walker’s recall election in the upcoming summer will be an important gauge of this Democratic energy. Hispanics are a traditional Democratic voting bloc. Although they don’t usually line up with them on social issues, they do support Democrats on economic issues and immigration. Hispanics aren’t crazy about Obama anymore, but a majority still support him according to a Gallop tracking poll. However, they absolutely hate Romney. Immigration is an important issue for Hispanics, 85% of Latinos supported the Dream Act, Obama supports the Dream Act- Romney said that he’d veto it if it were passed. He’s had similar hardliner policies across the board on immigration. Although Obama has record numbers for deportations of illegal immigrants in his term, he has recently been making more pro-Hispanic comments to woo their vote, such as promoting the Dream Act and other immigration reform, visiting swing states with many Hispanics, and appearing on the Spanish language network Univision. Obama shouldn’t have difficulty winning Nevada (where Reid narrowly won an unlikely re-election thanks to the Hispanic vote) and New Mexico, and should also win Colorado. He’s polling about evenly with Romney in Florida, but that could change if he starts actively pumping money in there and connecting Romney with the disastrous Governor Rick Scott. Finally, Arizona is competitive this year. It wasn’t competitive last time because it was John McCain’s home state, but this time, with its growing Hispanic population, I can see it going over to the Democratic column, which is important for long-term politics. Hispanics can also provide the necessary votes to win victories in states like Pennsylvania or Ohio, if they’re close. Finally, there’s the African American group. They have been solidly Democratic- and support him with a 90%+ approval rating. Enthusiasm, however, is the key to his victory. That enthusiasm in 2008 provided the turnout that won him Virginia and North Carolina. Quite simply, turnout is key here. If he can energize them and get them to the polls, he wins. These are just three of the many groups that Obama will probably be trying to appeal to as he continues in the 2012 campaign. At the moment, I’m predicting fairly reliable victories for him in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylania, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan- all currently considered swing states. After that, he’ll have 268 electoral votes, which means that he’ll only need one of the following states- Arizona, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, or Florida- to win the election.
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