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Swing states gain focus as election nears

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 02:11

Leading up to the 2012 presidential election, eyes are on a handful of states. Swing states are where the campaign battles have been fought this election season and states such as Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire are at the center of the fight.

A candidate must secure at least 270 electoral votes to win the election. A candidate is unlikely to win the election without the electoral votes of most of these battleground states, which contribute 89 total electoral votes.

Most polls predict Obama winning the Electoral College by a slim margin, but the swing state polls are so close that it is almost impossible to predict which states will vote red and which will vote blue.

Sarah Fulton, political science assistant professor, said this race is so close that there is a possibility of repeating what happened in the 2000 election, in which the winner of the electoral vote did not win the popular vote.

“I would say that [the race] is as close as the race in 2004, but not as close as the race in 2000,” Fulton said. “There is a possibility of the popular vote being won by Romney but the Electoral College vote being won by Obama.”

Unlike in Texas, candidates spend much more effort campaigning in swing states.

“I would say 90 percent of campaign resources are deployed in the swing states,” Fulton said. “Here in Texas we really have not seen any Romney or Obama campaign ads because they see it as a waste of money.”

Fulton said the high level of exposure these swing states have to candidates is something that might be foreign to A&M students.

It might take some time, but Fulton said Texas might be a swing state in the future.

“Texas is one of those states that could potentially go blue again, especially with the growth of the Hispanic population,” Fulton said. “Texas was a blue state as recently as 1976 and this is really not that long ago.”

Florida has been at the heart of the battlefield in this election, and with 29 electoral votes, it will contribute more votes than any other swing state.

Erin Jester, editor-in-chief of The Independent Florida Alligator at the University of Florida, said politics are inescapable in Florida and on the university’s campus.

“You can’t cross campus without someone talking to you about the election and usually from both sides,” Jester said.

Jester said Michelle Obama, Ann Romney and Bill Clinton visited their campus recently.

“It is almost overkill,” she said. “It seems like politicians are coming here almost every day at this point.”

Jester said while some students complain about the constant election coverage, they should realize that they are given a unique chance to be more educated on the issues.

Wisconsin is the home of Paul Ryan, but that still does not guarantee that Romney will sweep the state and claim its 10 electoral votes. Wisconsin has been a democratic state in the last six elections, but often by narrow margins.

Most polls show Wisconsin leaning toward Obama, but the outcome is not certain.

Ryan Rainey, editor-in-chief of The Badger Herald at Wisconsin State University at Madison, said the political climate in Wisconsin is split.

“In Wisconsin, in general, it is extremely divided and at times vitriolic,” Rainey said.

Rainey said it is impossible to turn on the TV without being bombarded with political advertisements. He said Obama even held a rally in the center of campus earlier this year.

No state has seen more campaigning this year than Ohio, which contributes 18 electoral votes. Ohio has sided with the winner of every presidential election in the last 48 years and it could be the single deciding factor of this election.

Ally Marotti, editor-in-chief of The Lantern at Ohio State University, said the political climate in Ohio is as tense as ever.

“Everyone knows how important Ohio is,” Marotti said. “I have had a few professors tell me that Ohio is one of the only places where your vote actually counts.”

Marotti said Obama visited the Ohio State campus five times in the last two years and that Romney visited the city of Columbus.

Marotti and many other analysts agree that the swing states are where the 2012 election will be won.

“I think that [the election] is going to come down to Ohio and the other swing states,” Marotti said. “All eyes are on us.”


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