Not long after Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) joined the Romney ticket, charged and often hyperbolic campaign ads hit the airwaves, commencing the next dog-eat-dog political campaign. What remains in question, however, is whether Ryan garners enough support from moderates and independents — a key demographic that could decide the upcoming election.
The American political process is back to its old antics as the Obama and Romney campaigns release ad hominem campaign ads in lieu of legitimate discussion. According to the Obama camp, Ryan’s voucher system to reform Medicare is the equivalent of kicking grandma to the curb. On the flip side, Romney has released sound bites making Obama appear anti-small business and anti-patriotic in an attempt to galvanize the conservative voter base. Either way, the American people are deprived of an actual policy debate.
Such a debate is needed now, more than ever. Unemployment is hovering just above 8 percent, health care costs are exorbitant, gas prices are astronomical and our national debt continues to skyrocket. Despite stimulus efforts from 2008, Americans remain disenchanted with the Obama administration due to sluggish economic recovery. In addition to the harsh political climate, disenchanting economic conditions and key changes in voter demographics may allow for swing states to be the deciding factor of the upcoming election.
Even so, Obama currently maintains a clear lead over Romney. The New York Times predicts in its electoral map about 185 “solid Obama” electoral votes and about 158 “solid Romney” electoral votes. But the battle is not over for Romney now that the focus has swung to toss-up states such as Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Florida.
These states — where there are harsh economic conditions, shifting populations and higher unemployment — present new opportunities for the candidates to market themselves. With that said, the Romney and Obama campaigns are vying to solidify support from a host of different groups that are disenchanted with the federal government.
These changing demographics are integral to the campaign strategies that Romney would need to gain votes from people of color, women — especially if they are unmarried — and younger voters who do not subscribe to conservative social policy. The blunder from Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) concerning the legitimacy of rape threatens Romney’s chances at winning over the female vote. This gaffe may also bleed into other key demographics, since it paints a negative picture of the Republican Party concerning women’s rights.
In order for Obama to maintain the edge he has on Romney, he must prove to these key demographics the efficacy of his policies and, more specifically, that his stimulus package and overhaul of the health insurance system benefit the middle-class taxpayer.
Changes in the electorate have caused the campaigns to recalibrate their strategies in swing states. What’s more, the hostile and polarized political climate, along with the two-party system and economic downturn, have created an American political process that continues to alienate the electorate.
Daniel Pierro is a sophomore in the College.