With the remaining Republican Presidential rival dropping out last week, Mitt Romney is now the undisputed Republican nominee for the President of the United States. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have now launched full-scale attacks against one another to energise their respective bases in order to build up their funding and ground operations. Over the course of this summer,two key areas that could play major roles in the outcome of the presidential election are the economy and the makeup of the Electoral College.
Reactions to the economy remain the most important barometer in assessing the outcome of this election. Historical precedence shows that the summer economic lull generally hurts the incumbent. The summer is characterised by high petrol prices and unpredictable job numbers due to shifts in part time employment. Romney and the other Republican candidates have repeatedly railed against Obama on rising petrol prices which are sure to increase due to summer travel. Additionally, Americans will not find any mortgage relief this summer as real estate values continue to decline. Romney said, ‘It’s still the economy, but we’re not stupid’ last week, making a jab at Obama who has consistently argued that the economy is improving and will continue to improve if the President is given another term. Undoubtedly, the state of the economy this summer will play a pivotal role in whether or not people feel as if they are better off than they were four years ago.
While the economy will likely play into Romney’s favour, the makeup of the Electoral College plays into Obama’s hands. Key areas that will be important in this election are the Mountain West, the Rust belt, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. In the West, Obama is expected to pick up Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and potentially Arizona due to his support for immigration reform and criticism of Arizona’s new immigration laws. Obama’s immigration policies have the potential to also help him in Florida due to its large Hispanic population. Romney’s hard-line stance against amnesty will make it difficult for him to gain the support of Hispanics. In 2008, Obama struggled to attain the support of white working class voters who constitute an important voting bloc in the Rust belt. Polls have Obama doing well in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but if Romney can succeed in making this election a referendum on the economy he can outperform Obama in both of these swing states. Lastly, economic and social issues will play a major role among Virginia and North Carolina voters who are traditionally moderate. Recent laws in Virginia threatening women’s reproductive rights are likely to hurt Romney, whereas his status as a moderate governor is likely to help him. These two states will definitely play major roles in deciding the outcome of the general election.
Despite the fact that the campaign is already in full swing, the economy and how the campaign develops in key swing states will without a doubt be the most important issues to watch throughout this campaign cycle.