The 2012 Presidential Election in United States Part I

By | October 18, 2021

President Barack Obama is running for re-election as President of the United States on November 6, challenged by Republican Mitt Romney. The election kicks off while the United States is in a severe economic downturn, something the challenger Romney has based his election campaign on. With high unemployment, low economic growth and high government debt, Romney hopes that voters think President Obama has not done a good enough job in the last four years.

  • What are the characteristics of the American electoral system?
  • How can demographic shifts in the voter base affect the election?
  • Why are some states more important than others for the two candidates?
  • Which groups agree on which candidate?

2: The electoral and party system

Presidential elections are held every four years. Elections to the Congress ( House of Representatives – the House and the Senate ), on the other hand, are held in the autumn every other year. Every other congressional election thus coincides with the presidential election, and every other becomes a so-called by – election , in the middle of the presidential term. In the United States, a country located in North America according to Travelationary, they call it the middle term, ie “the middle of the period”. The by-elections will also be important for the president; they serve as a poll on how satisfied voters are with what has been done so far.

While senators sit for 6 years at a time, congressional representatives sit for only 2 years. In other words, the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate stand for election every two years. This means that the congressional representatives run for office almost all the time . They therefore spend a lot of time in their home districts to encourage people to vote for them. Some political scientists and historians believe that this “permanent election campaign” has contributed to less willingness to cooperate and friendships across parties. Before, it was more common to spend time in Washington DC and participate in social activities with representatives and senators from the opposite political party. Today, so much time is spent on election campaigns that the representatives hardly have time to get to know political opponents on a personal level.

Each state has two senators . The number of representatives in the House varies according to the population of each state: The most populous are California, Texas, New York and Florida; The least populous are Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska.

As a result of demographic shifts within the United States, the snow belt in the northeast has gained fewer representatives in the House in recent years, while the sun belt in the southwest has gained more. Latinos in the south and southwest have gained more importance, while whites have gained less. In fact, Americans with a Latin American background have become a larger ethnic group than the historically largest minority group in the United States, namely African Americans : 16.7 percent versus 13.1 percent. By 2050, the population group that identifies as “white” will no longer be in the majority in the United States, reports the US Census Bureau .

Voters of African American descent tend to vote for the Democratic Party (only 11 percent voted for Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, while in 2008, 95 percent voted for Democrat Barack Obama). This year, the Republican Party hopes to be able to attract the growing group of voters with Latin American ancestry.

Latinos are often Catholics and often have a more conservative view of value issues such as abortion than other democratic voters. But when it comes to immigration policy – a field that often has personal significance for Latinos – Republicans are very conservative and therefore often reject Latinos in election contexts.

The Constitution is a cornerstone of the American political system. In 1776 , the English colonies declared independence from England. At a meeting in 1787 , the states decided to unite in the United States of America, the United States, as well as a constitution for the new state. Four important principles in the new constitution: The United States should be one

  • republic(as opposed to king and monarchy)
  • federation(division of power between the central government and the individual states),
  • have a division of power between the state powers(president / government, Congress and the judiciary)
  • have a system for ” checks and balances” (balancing the state powers)

Presidential elections
in the United States are the result of this form of government. The presidential election is not a direct election based on each citizen’s vote, but a federal election. This means that each of the states in the federation votes for the president. This complicated system is the result of a compromise made by the fathers of the constitution in the 18th century.

They were generally skeptical of giving (what they saw as) the “uninformed” masses too much power in presidential elections. Therefore, they did not want a direct election. But they were also skeptical of the obvious alternative – that Congress should appoint a president. This would be a violation of the principle of distribution of power as they saw it.

The compromise reached by the fathers of the constitution was that each state should have a certain number of so-called “electors” (more below) based on the population of the individual states. These were then to appoint the president after the election. In this way, they made sure that there would be a safety valve on the masses’ choice. In reality, voters today vote according to citizens’ votes; thus, they also have no independent role as a safety valve. Throughout history, 99 percent of voters have also followed the voting of citizens.

There are a total of 538 voters . A presidential candidate then needs at least 270 voters to gain a majority and thus win the election. Thus, we should think that it is important to court the voters in the largest states. For example, California, the most populous state, has the most voters – 55. Texas is the second largest, with 38 voters. But we do not see Obama or Romney so often in these states (other than to raise money for the election campaign). Why not?

The reason is that a stable majority in California votes for the Democratic Party, while in Texas the majority has voted for Republicans in all eight presidential elections since 1980 (when Ronald Reagan won). Thus, the real battle for the election is fought in a few so-called ” tipping states “. That is, states that swing back and forth between the two parties from presidential elections to presidential elections.

In the last election, the most important swing states have been Florida (with 29 voters) and Ohio (with 18). In addition, this year there is a battle for North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Iowa (6) and New Hampshire (4). In total, the battle for 110 voters out of 538 is decisive for the election. The fact that Latinos make up an ever-increasing proportion of the population in many of these tilting states makes them even more attractive to the two presidential candidates.

The US election system is a “winner-takes-all” system . This means that whoever wins the most votes in their district (as a congressional representative) or a state (a senator / president), will win the entire district or the entire state. Thus, for example, Romney needs only 50.1 percent of the votes in the tipping state of Ohio to get all the voters.

In addition, the United States is a two-party system – throughout history, the struggle has mostly been between only two political parties. There have been some exceptions: In 2000, however, the Greens ran with a presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, and he managed to get some votes. Some claim this deprived the Democratic candidate (Al Gore) of the election victory that year. However, the regulations make it difficult for third- and fourth-party parties to establish themselves, so this is relatively unusual.

The 2012 Presidential Election in United States