Presidential elections in the U.S.A.
The United States Presidential election that was held on 6th November, 2012 was the 57th in the United States history. Such elections are held after every four years. The Democratic Party nominee was President Barack Obama while his running mate was Vice-President Joseph Biden. Both were re-elected for a second term in office. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan were President Obama fiercest challengers. Both were nominated by the Republican Party. Jill Stein contested the presidency on the Green Party ticket where as Gary Johnson was a Libertian (Leighton, 2012). They both ran third party campaigns.
Republican Party presidential nomination attracted several candidates. These included Congressman Ron Paul, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Rick Santorum, and the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate were held in the last weeks of campaign. Issues addressed in the debates touched on the economy and jobs, the national deficit, social policy, immigration, and foreign policy. Pollsters predicted that the election was going to be very close hence the difficulty to tell a winner in advance (Linzer, 2012). Obama managed to win in all the states and districts he had won in the 2008 presidential elections except in North Carolina, Indiana, and Nebraska’s congressional district. President Obama won 332 Electoral College votes while Governor Mitt Romney won 206 Electoral College votes. Governor Mitt Romney carried 24 states. President Obama managed to carry 26 states and DC. President Obama garnered 65, 387, 700 popular votes compared to Governor Romney’s 60, 724, 464. This implies that Pres. Obama won 50.9% of popular vote while Gov. Mitt Romney won 47.3% (Tamara, 2012). Either of the candidates only required 270 Electoral College votes to become the President of the United States of America. This essay seeks to illuminate the United States 2012 Presidential elections with a view to highlighting the policies that Pres. Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney planned to put in effect if elected/re-elected.
Issues that played out during the 2012 United States Presidential elections
The 2010 census changed the United States electoral landscape. The data obtained were used to change Electoral College vote apportionment. States that were won by Democrats in 2008 like Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania each lost one Electoral College vote. New York lost 2 votes. Meanwhile, Georgia, Arizona, Utah, Washington, and South Carolina each gained an Electoral College vote. Louisiana and Missouri lost an Electoral College vote. Texas was apportioned four more votes. Democratic Party therefore had q net loss of six electoral votes in States won by Al Gore, John Kerry, and Obama in the previous presidential elections. Democratic Party therefore remained with a national total of 242 votes compared to Republican Party’s national total of 180. Votes allocated to remaining states remained at 115 (Sonmez, 2012).
Before the 2012 presidential elections state legislatures enacted laws that touched on voter identification and electoral process. Legislatures from Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, and West Virginia voted to approve measures to shorten early voting periods (Callahan, 2012). These laws barred felons from voting especially those from Florida and Iowa. Voters from Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin under these new laws had to have government issued Identification Documents as a requisite for voting. Those who never had these documents had to apply for them. This requirement had a potential danger of disenfranchising college students, blacks, and Latinos. The laws were supposed to check against voter fraud (Sonmez, 2012).
Other current issues that played out during these campaigns touched on economy, healthcare, Immigration, education, Abortion, Same sex marriage, social security/medical care, gun control, environment/global warming, terrorism, role of government, and foreign policy. Healthcare was top of the list of Obama’s accomplishments. Democrats managed to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act in March 2010 regardless of the fiercest of opposition from the congressional Republicans. Obama’s biggest victory and future challenge played out when the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was constitutional. Mitt Romney, however, maintained that if elected he would repeal the Affordable care Act. This assertion contrasted what he did when he was the Massachusetts governor when he signed a health care bill into law. This law penalized Massachusetts citizens for not having health insurance. This resulted in healthcare inflation. Romney likened Obamacare to Washington overstepping its mandate. Romney reiterated that Massachusetts healthcare plan was tailored for the State of Massachusetts.
On Campaign trail, Governor Romney marveled on his experience in public and private sectors. He cited this as his strength towards revamping the economy. He reiterated that cut, cap, and balance approach was the only way to curb federal deficit spending. Obama was accused by the Republicans of steering the country in the wrong direction. His opponents maintained that his economic policies never worked. His stimulus plan that temporarily boosted the economy failed to remedy high un-employment rates.
The policies both presidential candidates planned on putting to effect if elected/re-elected
Economic issues prominently featured in the 2012 United States presidential elections. Ways of managing the $14 trillion federal government’s debt featured prominently not forgetting that the U.S. banking and financial sectors and the nosedive in employment dominated the 2008 race. Conservative Republicans decried Obama’s economic and fiscal policy since 2009. Meanwhile GOP candidates held firm on pledges not to raise taxes and cut spending. This resulted into half trillion dollars in budget cuts and tax hikes that threatened to push the economy into another recession. Obama sought to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making under $250, 000. Under that backdrop, Pres. Obama in his re-election bid countered Republican’s assertions that he had steered the economy in the wrong direction and that his policies never worked by asserting that he had made a series of reforms to crack down on wall street malpractices and instituted programs to help small business owners and consumers (Cable News Network, 2012). He said that his stimulus plan temporarily helped boost the economy but failed to significantly drop the record high unemployment rate. He said that he came into office when the country was facing fiscal crisis. He called upon Americans to re-elect him for the country to realize full economic recovery. Romney on the other hand cited his public and private sector experience as a boon to revitalizing the economy. He supported the cut, cap, and balance approach to curbing federal deficit spending.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate in Obamacare could not be upheld under the United States Constitution Commerce Clause but could be upheld as tax. This scored a victory for Obama in the realms of healthcare reforms. It however left Republicans and Democrats at odds. Republicans have been pushing for the repeal of the Obamacare Act that was passed into law in 2010. Democrats have however; asked Republicans to respect the Supreme Court ruling and move on. Republicans buoyed by the fact that majority of Americans are opposed to individual mandate and a slim majority opposing Obamacare altogether have resolved to soldier on (Cable News Network, 2012). The big question that still lingers is whether healthcare reform is a tax or a penalty. In this regard, Obama alluded that the healthcare reform was one of his accomplishments as more Americans got insured. Mitt Romney asked to be voted the next president so that he could repeal the Affordable Care law in spite of the fact that a similar law was passed when he was the Massachusetts governor that penalized citizens for not having health insurance. He however noted the Romneycare was all about making every citizen access affordable and comprehensive health insurance (Cable News Network, 2012).
President Obama issued a directive to the Department of Homeland Security that created a path to citizenship for many youths. The young undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who had obtained a high school diploma and served in the military could not be deported. Republicans were not impressed with this. He did this to proof his critics wrong many of whom held that he never did enough to initiate immigration reforms. The decision by the United States Supreme Court to strike out majority of Arizona’s controversial immigration law pushed back at Republican and Conservative lawmakers’ attempts to take matters into their own hands after complaints that federal government was not doing enough to secure the borders. On accusation that he never did enough in the first two years of his presidency when Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House to push immigration reforms, President Obama reiterated that all he wanted was to give a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic, and young people and that time was not one of his worries (Cable News Network, 2012). Governor Romney tried to create a contrast between him and president Obama on immigration reform by pledging that when elected he would do more than Obama did in his first term in office. He pledged that he would create a long-term solution to immigration reforms. He cited Pres. Obama’s initiatives as politically motivated because they came four and a half months before the general election. He opined that he would build a border fence and create a pathway to citizenship for those who have served in the U.S. military or for children who came here through no fault of their own.
Under President Obama leadership U.S. wound up its occupation in Iraq; the administration is also considering troop withdrawal in Afghanistan; adapting U.S. foreign policy to changing dynamics in North Africa and the Middle East; revitalizing stall peace plans even as Israel and Palestine remain sworn enemies and Iran remain a nuclear threat in the region. President Obama’s administration also sought to address U.S. tense relationship with China which it has strong economic ties with. North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il and his son Kim Jong-ul was Pres. Obama’s foreign policy headache. Meanwhile, Republicans accused Obama of leading from behind with regard to Middle East affairs and more specifically Syrian civil unrest. Obama administration scored a foreign policy victory when it killed Osama Bin Laden who was the face of Al Qaeda. Obama prioritizes pursuing negotiations and working with other nations as opposed to taking unilateral American action. He boasted of having wound down two wars as the commander in chief (Cable News Network, 2012). He withdrew U.S. combat forces from Iraq and set a 2014 deadline to pull most troops from Afghanistan. Obama administration favors the use of specialized forces, coalitions, sanctions, and drone strikes over full-scale invasions. He uses coalition of nations to pressure dictators to step down. Mitt Romney criticized Obama for failing to lead on international issues like the Israeli-Palestine conflict, Iran’s nuclear initiatives, and Syria’s uprising. Romney pledged that when elected into office he would bring about an American Century where United States would lead the free world and the free world would lead the entire world. Romney advocated for imposing sanctions, coalition building, and other diplomatic moves. With regard to Syria uprising, Romney called for working with allies to arm rebels. He never advocated for U.S. military intervention. He reiterated that the U.S. should have played a leading role in calling for al Assad ouster instead of pursuing diplomacy that never worked. Romney advocated for a lock-step approach in handling Middle East crisis as opposed to a mediator’s role that the Obama administration plays. Romney supported NATO’s timetable of withdrawing combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. While campaigning for re-election, president Obama asked the electorate not to just have his words but also his deeds. He said that he pledged to end the war in Iraq honorably and lived up to that promise (Cable News Network, 2012).
On education Obama pledged that his education reform was going to be top-down mandate where local teachers, principals, school boards, and communities collaborate. Obama’s education policy built on Bush’s No Child Left Behind law. The President’s Race to the Top Program sought to involve states input in crafting innovative plans on improving teacher quality and student achievement. These came as academic performance continued to stagnate in the United States. The student loans overtook credit cards as the largest amount of debt Americans owed. Mitt Romney supported the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans. His education plan was dubbed “A chance for every child.” The plan emphasized school choice, accountability, and ensuring that qualified teachers are in every class (Cable News Network, 2012).
With regard to abortion president Obama supported Roe v. Wade. He opposed Supreme Court ruling that supported partial birth abortion plan and a repeal of a Bush prohibition on international funding to groups that supported abortion. Women Reproductive rights groups bashed Obama for signing an order that banned the use of funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and if a woman’s life was in danger. President Obama maintained that no woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes. He believed that women had a right to choose. Romney on his part pledged that when elected, he would support an overturn of Roe v. Wade because abortion should be decided at the state level. With regard to contraception provided by religious organizations Romney maintained that the Massachusetts Romneycare did not require churches to provide contraception (Cable News Network, 2012).
The United States 2012 presidential election issues revolved around healthcare, economy, immigration, foreign policy, education, abortion, sex-sex marriage, social security, gun control, global warming, terrorism, and the role of government. Mitt Romney labored to make his foreign policy initiatives to be different from Pres. Obama’s, however, the issues he majored on like coalition and arming of rebels to ouster al Assad’s government were very similar to Obama’s. References
Cable News Network. (2012). Issues. CNN.
Callahan, D. (2011, March 25). Ohio’s Voter ID Law and the 2012 Election. Huffington’s Post.
Leighton, V.M. (2012, November 8). Prediction Markets: The Other Big Winners on Election
Night. Huffington’s Post.
Linzer, D. (2012, November 8). The Stats man who Predicted Obama’s Win. BBC News.
Sonmez, F. (2011, May 23). Republicans rewriting state election laws in ways that could hurt
Democrats. The Washington Post.
Tamara, L. (2012, November 10). Obama Wins Fla., Topping Romney in Final Tally. Associated Press.
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