Less than six months before the U.S. presidential election, newpolls show a deadlocked race between President Barack Obama and hisexpected Republican opponent, former Massachusetts governor MittRomney. The intense verbal jousting between the Obama and Romney campaignshas begun early and political analysts predict a long and largelynegative campaign between now and November. Frank Newport is a pollster with one of the most respected monitorsof U.S. |
public opinion, the Gallup Organization. "You put it all together and my conclusion looking at it isthat it is a very close race at this point," said Newport. "In fact, when we asked people who would you vote for if theelection were today, voters in America, basically it is tied atabout 46 [percent] to 46." If the predictions hold true, the 2012 race will be in keeping withother recent close presidential elections, including those in 2000and 2004. Most analysts say the economy is the critical issue in this year'scampaign and they say the key question is whether voters haveenough faith in Obama to reward him with another four years inoffice, or turn instead to Romney. Romney is close to securing the 1,144 delegates he needs to claimthe Republican Party's presidential nomination and has focused hiscampaign on President Obama's handling of the economy.
"He has spent more and borrowed more. The time has come for apresident, a leader, who will lead. I will lead us out of thisdebt and spending inferno," said Romney. After a relatively comfortable victory four years ago, thepresident is warning his Democratic supporters to expect a muchcloser contest this year. Obama spoke recently at a campaignfundraising event in New York.
"But I'm going to need all of you," said Obama. "This is going to be a tough race. It is going to be a tightrace. Nobody should be taking this for granted." Polls show voters like Obama personally more than Romney, but manysurveys give Romney a slight edge in handling the economy.
Thomas Mann, a political expert at the Brookings Institution, sayspublic perceptions of the economy will be a determining factor inNovember. "I would say the most important factor is whether the economyis picking up some steam and moving forward or is it falling backagain? If it's falling back again Obama's re-election is atserious risk," said Mann. Like the 2004 matchup between President George W. Bush and DemocratJohn Kerry, both candidates this year will rely on a strong turnoutfrom committed supporters in their parties. But close elections are usually decided by independent voters, whodo not have strong allegiances to either political party and areliable to swing either way on Election Day.
Ken Duberstein served as former President Ronald Reagan's chief ofstaff in the 1980s. "Where the votes are going to count are in the middle, in theindependent vote," said Duberstein. "If the bases [ofboth parties] turn out, nobody wins. It is the fight over theindependents, the 'indies.' So you have to broaden yourconstituency and not just play to your existing base." While the campaign is expected to be tough, Romney has repudiated aproposed attack campaign against the president developed on behalfof wealthy conservative businessman Joe Ricketts. The New York Times said that the $10 million ad campaign thatRicketts wanted to fund separately from the Romney campaign wouldhave resurrected Obama's ties to his controversial former pastor,the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
But a spokesman says Ricketts hasnow rejected the proposed campaign. Republican candidate JohnMcCain opposed a similar campaign when he ran against Obama in2008.
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